Famously played backwards in time, Betrayal traces a seven-year affair - between art gallery owner Emma (Kirwan) and literary agent Jerry (Stephens), the best friend of her publisher husband Robert (West) - from its poignant end to its first illicit kiss.
The semi-autobiographical drama was last seen in the West End in a 2003 production directed by Peter Hall, who also helmed the 1978 premiere at the National, where Penelope Wilton, Michael Gambon and Daniel Massey starred. Michell also directed Pinter’s Old Times at the Donmar Warehouse three years ago. Betrayal continues its limited season at the venue until 21 July 2007.
Widely considered the most accessible of the Nobel Prize-winning Pinter’s plays, Betrayal has nevertheless historically had its detractors amongst the critics. However, those who filed overnight after last night’s offering were completely won over by Michel’s “finely nuanced” production, which caused one to completely retract his original 1978 rubbishing of the play and another to declare it “a masterly production of a masterpiece … I can’t recommend it too highly”. There was strong praise all round for the actors, too, with critics especially warm towards Samuel West for his “superbly observed” performance as the betrayed husband Robert.
- by Jake Brunger