THEATRE REVIEW: Betrayal ★★★★

Harold Pinter Theatre
Tuesday 5th March - Saturday 8th June 2019

Coming off the back of the ‘Pinter at the Pinter Season’, which ran as part of seven different productions involving twenty plays divided between numerous directors, Betrayal is fresh off the season and directed by Jamie Lloyd, starring Zawe Ashton, Tom Hiddleston, and Charlie Cox. Having seen every one of the seven productions previous to this installment, it feels fitting that this was left to be a stand-alone, due to the stripped back nature and simplicity, something that lends itself well with the creative aspects from this performance.

Following a seven-year romance, which Pinter has cleverly devised in a way that the story is never linear, as we watch the disheartening climax of a broken relationship before retracing right back towards the humble beginnings, it gives a heightened sense of characterisation and focus on the feelings that we gain for these characters, played stunning by a superb casting. Ashton especially gives flare and empathy towards Emma, who is perplexing even when crunching down on a apple in the background. Cox and Hiddleston really fight out the alpha-male presence on stage though, and this is where Pinter and Lloyd’s imagination runs rapid and really sells itself to a modern audience; the text is funny and you can see the amount of enjoyment that is had on stage, especially with a melon in one particular scene.

Soutra Gilmours’ set design, which has a sense of starkness, really embeds in our minds our own interpretation of Emma’s flat in Kilburn that she is looking to redecorate, and gives us a moment to evolve the settings in a way that can very harsh in productions quite often. The themes of memory and betrayal haunt this production the most though, again heightened by the design from all aspects, and it’s at these moments, whether in the restaurant, or the moment Robert (Hiddleston) uncovers the true extent of Emma’s lies and deceit, that within the auditorium a pin could be heard dropped from anywhere and it could be the loudest sound in the room; Pinter has the audience right where he wants them… hooked, and furthermore hopefully upon leaving the theatre soon after the show has finished.

Overall, Betrayal is breathtakingly precise, suspenseful and stunning production which has followed off an incredibly impressive season of Pinter’s vibrant and compelling history of plays in style.


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