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Betrayal (Bury St Edmunds)

London Classic Theatre's new production makes us care about the tangled lives of Pinter's characters.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Steven Clarke & Rebecca Pownall
© Sheila Burnett

Of all Pinter's plays, Betrayal is perhaps the most personal. The shaping of the dialogue and situations is as meticulous as in any other of his dramas, but we cannot help but empathise a great deal more with the characters. This new production by Michael Cabot for London Classic Theatre makes us care about the tangled lives of Emma, Jerry and Robert.

There are seven different locations for the nine scenes which span the decade from 1968 (when Jerry begins his affair with Emma) to 1977, when they meet again, just to talk. We start with that final meeting and work backwards to Robert and Emma's party where an inebriated Jerry makes the fatal pass.

All three of the principal actors do justice to the text, balancing what is actually spoken, what is implied and what underlies the exchanges with immaculate timing. Rebecca Pownall as Emma has perhaps the most difficult role; it takes time for us in the audience to warm to her various dilemmas and actions. Pete Collis' Robert is a slow-burn performance but ultimately a moving one.

As Jerry, Steven Clarke offers us a credible portrait of the literary agent who needs to keep publisher Robert on-side, yet is swirled around with his delight in his extra-marital adventure with its moral subterfuges, mid-afternoon trysts and all the rest. Bek Palmer frames it all with a set which is as fractured as the lives of the characters.