A simple nine-act, three-person cast performed Harold Pinter’s 1978 play “Betrayal” on Oct. 29 and 30 at the Presentation theater. Junior James Godbolt directed the short performance which focuses on a love triangle between married couple Robert (Isaac Samuelson) and Emma (Annie Throssell) and their adulterous friend, Jerry (Sam Finger).
The first scene opens with an awkward circular conversation between Emma and Jerry. Emma asks Jerry, “Do you ever think of me?” Jerry answers, then asks it of her. She follows with “Do you remember?” He responds, “I remember.” Emma is upset because her husband, Robert, has just confessed that he has been cheating on her with a number of women for a few years. Emma reveals her affair with Jerry, but Robert is unbothered by it. Jerry becomes angry that Robert knows about their affair because he is a longtime friend and colleague of Robert. This initial conversation illustrates Emma and Jerry’s entire relationship and their characteristic search to pin it down by a definition or meaning.
Isaac Samuelson exercises his penchant for the stiff Englishman, with both his accent and reserved, callous demeanor. Robert, on his wife’s affair with his friend, declares that he does not care about any of it. Throughout the play, he treats Jerry as his friend, never bringing up the issue of Emma.
Annie Throsell (as Emma) embodied the different views that she and Jerry hold about the affair. Emma appeared more cheery and thrilled about sneaking around their spouses than being with Jerry. She described a particular encounter with Jerry’s wife with great enthusiasm. She appeared a bit reluctant to get into bed with Jerry and was more interested in decorating “their” flat with new curtains. Toward the end of the affair, she remarks that the flat is an empty home, to which Jerry retorts, “it will never be that kind of home.”
Two questions permeate the rhetoric of Jerry and Robert’s friendship. The first is Robert’s persistent quest for a game of squash with Jerry, and his equally strong intent on figuring out when their last game was. Secondly, both men pepper the dialogue with “How is Judith?” and “How is Emma?” The English formality and resulting superficiality allows Jerry and Robert to skirt around the taboo subjects and continue their friendship.
The scenes are set up using reverse chronology, thus the very last scene of the play is of the New Year’s kiss that began Jerry and Emma’s affair and the circular conversation in the first scene takes place after they have ended the affair. Sam Finger, as Jerry, follows up his excellent performance with the final scene in which he declares his love for Emma.
Godbolt and his team of actors impressed the audience, but Pinter’s plot was stale and luke warm, never advancing past the nostalgia of old lovers to invoke deeper, more complex emotions.