note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Beverly Creasey
If you’re a Pinter fan like me, you look forward to new productions of gems like BETRAYAL in hopes that fresh eyes may find something new. A couple of seasons ago director Scott Edmiston found a fabulous wrinkle for yet another coupling in the text. Now director Gail Phaneuf heads a quirky, “Americanized” (not to worry, it’s still British) production, playing through June 5th.
Phaneuf and company’s BETRAYAL (produced by Another Country and The Factory Theatre) plays with the rhythm and emotion of the piece so you don’t get the surfacy, standard delivery most productions embrace. When the emotion is subdued, it’s easier to poke about for subtext but here subtext and emotion are mixed together, most strikingly in the character of Jerry, who’s having an affair with his best friend’s wife.
Robert Kropf, as Jerry, catches you off guard: sometimes he’s a wary, hangdog of a sad sack and sometimes he’s a snide, out and out snob. He’s so thoroughly unpredictable it makes for lively watching. Pinter is the master of what isn’t said and Kropf doesn’t say it with his whole body, his torso often at odds with his neck and head.
Lyralen Kaye, as his lover, makes the woman a tad desperate for affection, letting us see why she needs more than a husband and family. Wayne Fritsche, as her husband, gets all the sympathy in this production because he’s the “nice guy” who will always finish last at everything, except perhaps for squash. James Wilcox, as a surly waiter (I don’t remember a waiter in other versions of the script) proves the adage about small parts. He cuts a hilarious dash as the fed up server, even stealing the scene away from the two men. I’m not sure Pinter would have approved but I loved it.
Greg Jutkiewicz’ smart lighting (especially the shadows from the windows above) on Dahlia L’Habieli’s gorgeous art strewn set adds oodles of class to the proceedings. Phaneuf’s musical scene change choices and Karen Maloney’s period garb become hip touches to an already entertaining production.