It is perhaps fair to say before I begin that my experience of the theater has been mixed.
I dutifully go along to see the most critically feted plays of the year, only to walk out wondering what exactly it is that I was missing
Filmmaker Werner Herzog is a known theater hater who cites ‘all that ridiculous shouting’ as a reason to dislike it.
Well on that level he might have cut the new star-studded Broadway production of ‘Betrayal’ a bit of slack as shouting is kept to a minimum, this being a Harold Pinter play after all, a man more known for his pauses that his vocal wattage.
Yet I doubt this play would have fostered in him a hither to unknown love of the stage.
Set in London in the sixties and seventies, ‘Betrayal’ is the story of an affair between two married people told in reverse. We start with the aftermath of the relationship and work our way back to the moments before the very first kiss and declaration of love.
This technique threatens to introduce something new into a pretty shop worn subject but somehow the cool style of Pinter sabotages the whole endeavor. It’s like having a chartered accountant write about a love affair. It may give you an odd take but it leaves you feeling ever so slightly bored.
In fact the person in the seat next to me feel asleep. I couldn’t blame the acting for this soporific effect; Daniel Craig, Rafe Spall and Rachel Weisz were all excellent it’s just that well….. how many more plays, books or films about affairs are there already? Squillions. And how many really introduce something new to our understanding of these things? Very, very few.
In a way ‘Betrayal’ is a period piece from a time when talking about the realities of modern relationships in a more honest, critical way was a relatively new thing.
Maybe in the late seventies it had the power to shock or intrigue but in todays less idealistic and more cynical age ‘Betrayal’ is yet another tale of infidelity in a world chock full of it.