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Theater Review: Betrayal, Palm Beach Dramaworks

Mar 13 2007
Hap Erstein | Palm Beach Post

Over the course of nine brief scenes, Harold Pinter's Betrayal moves backward — and occasionally forward — in time, tracing a non-linear path of nine years from the awkward endgame of an illicit affair to its brash, passionate beginning. While this anti-chronological progression would seem to confuse matters, in fact Betrayal is one of the Nobel literature laureate's more accessible and concrete plays. By going backward, it avoids the downbeat ending of lovers Jerry and Emma, awkwardly, painfully sifting through their past together. That is the play's first scene, leading to a series of deceits and discoveries, lies and betrayals, before concluding with the first blush of infidelity, as Jerry makes a drunken pass at Emma at a cocktail party. Although recognized as one of the most important dramatists of the 20th century, Pinter is rarely performed in South Florida. It takes a company like Palm Beach Dramaworks, dedicated to producing such neglected writers, to venture into the realm of his exacting, though stylized, subtext-laden dialogue, along with his signature significant pauses. Under J. Barry Lewis' direction, his cast brings the play to life... In the same way that Michael Amico's sectional furniture on his tastefully muted beige set keeps being rearranged to suggest Betrayal's many locations, Lewis plays a similar chess game with his actors. ...Pinter's sly look at the breakdown of love, friendship and communication — in reverse — comes through to introduce the Dramaworks audience to a writer worthy of further exploration.