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Syracuse Stage , Syracuse, NY. Wednesday, January 16 through Sunday, February 3, 2002.
Syracuse Stage has put together an excellent production of BETRAYAL by Harold Pinter. This tale of a multitude of lies and betrayals is told in 9 scenes and is played in reverse chronology. It answers the age-old question, "How did we end up like this?" Pinter has commented that BETRAYAL is about memory and youth and loss. With only three main characters, "it was evident they'd been up to something."
Pinter once said, "One way of looking at speech is to say it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness." From Jerry's line to Emma, "You remember the form. I ask about your husband, you ask about my wife," through the repetitious circularity of the dialogue, it is apparent that the meaning is not so much in the words, but in the pauses and body language. Although there's a constant harking back with "Do you remember," everyone remembers differently, so everyone is again betrayed, this time by their own memories.
Matthew Maraffi's set with its floating panels is effective in creating the complex passage of time and the different locales, aided by Walter Hicklin's costumes. A. Nelson Ruger's lighting is interesting and inventive, and the projections are helpful in keeping us on track. Jonathan Herter's sound is, as usual, excellent.
Speaking of complexity, at the performance I attended there were obviously a couple of confused patrons in the back of the house. During one scene change we all heard a booming voice say, "Now it's their flat - their flat." We all became accustomed to these between-scenes explanations.
The cast is excellent and handles the British dialect with ease. Mitchell Anderson as Robert is wonderfully self-contained, with a subtle bite in the squash game dialogue. Emma, as played by Deanne Lorette, displays an interesting combination of strength and vulnerability. Graham Winton is splendid as Jerry. He makes the complex character understandable, and even somewhat sympathetic. Rounding out the cast is Gibson Glass, who obviously has great fun with the minor character of the waiter.
Director Kevin Moriarty has done as good a job with BETRAYAL as he did last year with WIT. He's helped the cast find not only the sub-text of the play, but also its humor. He's made this production coherent, interesting and moving.
A final small compliment for whoever's responsible -the white wine was the right color and looked as if it had the right viscosity.
an intermission, it seems much shorter than 90 minutes. It's a play that will
make you think as well as feel. On a scale of one to five, the Syracuse Stage
production of BETRAYAL gets four and three quarters oranges. For North Country
Public Radio, I'm Connie Meng.