Betrayed in Silence by Dan Radovich
PTC Offers Expert Rendition Of Harold
– “A powerful experience, both funny and
gut-wrenching – often simultaneously”
BANGOR—When the space between words
becomes more revealing—and more incriminating—than what is actually said
on stage, you're either at a mime convention or a Harold Pinter play.
Luckily, thanks to Penobscot Theatre
Company, it's the latter.
"Betrayal" is one of Pinter's most
accessible plays. Under the direction of Gregg W. Brevoort, four
talented performers and an excellent backstage crew succeed in making
obvious why Pinter is one of the most important and influential
playwrights of the 20th century.
Originally an actor, Pinter began
writing plays in 1957. Since then he's written such modern classics as
"The Birthday Party," "The Caretaker," "The Dumb Waiter," "The
Homecoming" and "No Man's Land."
With "Betrayal," Pinter took what was
essentially an autobiographical tale—a romantic triangle between a
husband, a wife and a best friend—and created an unforgettable piece of
Premiering in 1978, the original London
production provoked a scathing critical reception for what was perceived
as a melodramatic theatrical throwback. Time has proven the critics
wrong and illustrated two important axioms: "It's not what you say, but
how you say it" and, this being Pinter, "It's not what you say, but what
you don't say."
Told in reverse chronology and spanning
nine years, "Betrayal" starts two years after the end of the affair
between Emma and Jerry. It's a bittersweet meeting at a London pub with
the two former lovers blowing on the cold embers of their relationship
and finding no spark.
Emma's marriage to book publisher
Robert, which had survived the seven-year adultery, is now finally
crumbling. So, too, is the friendship between Robert and Jerry.
From this poignant starting point, the
play travels back in time, visiting pivotal turning points in the
relationship between these three characters.
We stop where the story actually
begins—at a party with a kiss.
In between, Pinter dispassionately
dissects these lives and exposes layer upon layer of betrayal, both
literal and figurative.
Pinter's dialogue—especially in the
opening scenes, until the play's rhythm establishes itselfs—seems as
artificial as the rhyming verse in PTC's last offering, Moliere's
"Tartuffe." Once it gets going, however, the production becomes a
powerful experience, both funny and gut-wrenching—often simultaneously.
The first scene of Act II, an elliptical
look at Robert and Emma on holiday in Venice, is one of the most
powerful scenes in modern theatre—simple in its design, devastating in
its effect. The scene's last line—when Robert asks Emma if she's looking
forward to Torcello—hovers in the air like a palpable object.
The cast couldn't be better. Patrick
Dizney brings an dreamy intensity to the role of Jerry. Although all the
play's events follow from his initial actions, he seems even more
rudderless than the rest of the cast. He sets things in motion but is
never in control.
David Sitler's Robert is a conflicted
study of quick anger and coiled passivity.
And Rita Rehn, as Emma, expertly runs a
gamut of emotions over the course of the play.
The stage design is functional and
minimal, just what the production calls for.
If there's any justice in the world, PTC
will find itself with another success on its hands. You owe it to
yourself to see this classic of modern English drama from Harold Pinter,
the father of the theatrical pregnant pause.
“Betrayal” is at Penobscot Theatre
Company’s 183 Main Street theater in Bangor Thursdays through Sundays
through April 21. Tickets/information: 942-3333.