Emma (Samantha Janus) is married to Robert (David Michaels). The two enjoy holidays together and have a good friendship. But Emma leads a double life and is having an affair with Jerry (Antony Byrne) - Robert's best friend.
Beginning at the end of the affair, each scene takes the audience back in time ending with the moment that the affair began. This narrative device should work well but the audience is left shifting around in their seats as John Gunter's set is re-jigged and the lighting fades each time a character says the pivotal piece of dialogue that signals the past.
Another major problem is that Pinter's writing is not timeless. Many of the views expressed belong to the 1970's. But the production is set in the present day. So when Jerry refers to a flat that he rents for him and Emma, the audience cannot connect with a middle class love shack - it seems somewhat dated in world where people just "get a room."
The performances are all fine. Janus does very well as the centre of the love triangle and you can understand why these two men are so torn by her. Byrne is adequate as her lover although he fails to convince you that he is actually living life on the edge under his best friend's nose. Michaels does better as the old fashioned man's man who adores both his pal and his wife. He really brings Pinter's words to life and instead of sounding chauvinistic - he provides his character with a sense of longing.
Sharrock's direction means that time almost stands still even though it is suppose to unfold in a non linear fashion. Often cast members pause awkwardly to trigger the passing of time. The audience on the night I attended saw this as an opportunity to go to the toilet or failing that - leave the theatre. The constant set changing and imposing music take away much of the emotion from Pinter's intense writing.
Gunter's set consisting of street signs, old furniture, a bed and a child's bike add a smidgen of poignancy to the proceedings but like much of this production lack the depth required to stay in your memory once the curtain has gone down.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Palace Theatre, Manchester)