Review: Betrayal, Derby Theatre

Director Lekan Lawal has made Harold Pinter’s classic Betrayal his own with a visionary contemporary production at Derby Theatre.

With a brave use of cinematic styling he projects the menace and tension created amid the emotional chaos of the fractured lives of the adulterers on to the stage. Twice.

The innovative set design – a rotating Perspex room – gives the audience a unique voyeuristic perspective of the love triangle reflecting on their decaying passion. And their potent body language is all the more poignant for also being screened close-up on to the backdrop of the stage.

Betrayal is the story of  a seven-year affair between Emma and Jerry, the close friend of her husband Robert. It was inspired by Pinter’s own affair with the TV presenter Joan Bakewell.

In Lekan’s production the dramatic conceit of having all the characters in the same space during the most intimate moments of the affair echoes the reality of marital deceit – the cuckolded partner never really leaving the room.

There is a lot of tenderness and humour in Betrayal, and the small team of talented actors perfectly capture all the workings of the human heart – passion, love, guilt and bitterness.

The structure of the play going mostly backwards in time from the dying embers of the affair to the first illicit kiss was a challenge which excited and fascinated Lekan, who is directing his main-house debut at the end of an 18 month placement at Derby with the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme.

Together with the show’s three designers he did a superb job of spooling back to 1968 and those first flickers of attraction by making clever use of the revolving stage and the rewinding of the video during the scene changes.

Emma is played by Kemi-Bo Jacobs, Jerry by Philip Correia and Robert by Ben Addis. Matthew Curnier is the waiter. The set designer was Neil Irish, sound designer Paul Arditti and lighting designer Arnim Friess.

The play can be seen at Derby Theatre until April 1.