Playwright Harold Pinter’s Betrayal is an odd and fascinating theatrical duck in a number of ways. First, the story is told in reverse chronology, starting in 1977 with a couple’s reconnection in a pub; it moves backward, ending in 1968 when the couple first unites.
Pinter presents interesting philosophical conundrums of what constitutes loyalty and betrayal. Can two people having affairs behind their spouses’ backs accuse each other of betrayal? Is the betrayal of friendship as egregious as the betrayal of spouses?
In addition, Pinter’s minimal dialogue and less-than-likable characters challenge the audience as they watch selfish people making selfish decisions. Mostly, it’s intriguing, but at times, it’s just irritating.
Capital Stage’s production of this 90-minute, no-intermission play tackles these ethical and moral conflicts with a strong three-person cast under the direction of Janis Stevens. Chad Deverman is Jerry and Elena Wright is Emma—the two main characters who are having a seven-year affair behind the back of Emma’s husband Robert, played by Michael Patrick Wiles. All three give strong performances, though sometimes the highly stylized acting makes their characters less than relatable.
The play’s sparse dialogue is matched with the imaginative, stark-white set that features tiered platforms, minimal furniture and props, and background video screens that display the year and seasons in which the scenes are set—a necessity within the backward-moving storylines.