A New York Theatre Guide to... Betrayal!
Here's all you need to know about the hit London transfer of Betrayal, starring Zawe Ashton, Charlie Cox and Olivier Award & Golden Globe winner Tom Hiddleston...
Having played a sold-out run at London’s Harold Pinter Theatre in spring of this year, becoming the hot ticket of the town and the crown jewel of London’s acclaimed “Pinter at the Pinter” season, Olivier Award-winning director Jamie Lloyd’s hit revival of Betrayal has now crossed the pond to offer New York audiences a slice of the action. Previews began at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on August 14, 2019, ahead of tonight’s official opening.
What’s it all about?
Inspired by his own seven-year affair with BBC Television presenter Joan Bakewell, playwright Harold Pinter’s classic 1978 drama Betrayal centers on a trio of intertwined characters. Emma and Robert are the onstage married couple of the piece and the third character is Jerry, who is Robert’s best friend and who had the honor of being his Best Man at his wedding to Emma. Jerry is also Emma’s lover and the two have been engaging in a seven-year extramarital affair of their own. All the while, Robert has been having extramarital liaisons of his own and it turns out all three of the characters have been constantly betraying each other through not telling or withholding the truth. Famously, Pinter tells this tale of betrayal in reverse chronological order, beginning with the end of Robert and Emma’s marriage in the present day and jumping backwards in time from scene-to-scene, allowing us to discover how the affair began to unravel, how Robert first discovered the infidelity and, eventually, how it all began.
Who’s starring in it?
The cast includes three great British talents, who are all making their respective Broadway debuts. Golden Globe and Olivier Award winner Tom Hiddleston, who most will know from his fan-favorite role as Loki within the “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” stars as Robert. He is no stranger to the London stage, having starred in the likes of Coriolanus, Othello, Ivanov, and Hamlet, and he won great praise (and a Golden Globe) for his performance on the BBC’s “The Night Manager.” His other most notable non-Marvel film credits include “Kong: Skull Island,” “Crimson Peak,” “War Horse,” and “Midnight in Paris.” Alongside him as Jerry is Charlie Cox, also a Marvel favorite thanks to his titular role as Daredevil on Netflix. He previously made his Off-Broadway debut in Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2016 production of Incognito. Fans will also recognise him from his TV role as Owen Sleater on the hit HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” or his film appearances in the likes of “Stardust” and “The Theory of Everything.” Finally, Zawe Ashton takes on the role of Emma. She is a UK television star thanks to her role on Channel 4’s “Fresh Meat,” and has appeared regularly on the UK stage, including starring opposite Uzo Aduba and Laura Carmichael in The Maids, also directed by Jamie Lloyd.
What’s special about this production?
This revival of the Pinter classic, with a running time of 90 minutes, has been stripped bare, allowing audiences to concentrate on the text and the performances of this gifted bunch of actors. There are no costume changes, few props and a simplistic set and scene changes are solely enriched by the effective lighting design of Jon Clark as well as Ben and Max Ringham’s subtle sound design. Having the actors perform in modern, generic dress lifts the piece out of the 1960s/70s and gives it a timeless feel that hits home. It’s also of note that all actors remain on the stage for the duration of the piece, whether they were originally intended to be a part of the scene or not. The third character dwells in the background or in the closest vicinity to the others, almost like a physical embodiment of the elephant in the room or as a constant ghostly reminder of the omnipresent betrayal. But what’s truly special about this production is the confident performances of the cast, comfortable in their silences and self-assured in their choices. Bravo!
Who would we recommend it to?
Aside from Pinter aficionados and die-hard “Marvel Cinematic Universe” fans, aching to see their idols up close and personal, this production is for all those who love their dramas juicy and scandalous. It is for all those who don’t find big budget sets a necessity to make great theatre and it is also for those who may have already seen past revivals of the Pinter classic and are ready to experience Betrayal in its purest form…
Betrayal Tickets are available now for performances through December 8, 2019.
(Photos by Marc Brenner)