Betrayal by Harold Pinter

Betrayal - Harold Pinter

This probably works better on the stage than it does on the page. Frankly, I was disappointed.


True to its title, Betrayal is a story about betrayal and deception. The play is centered on three people: Emma, Robert, and Jerry. Emma, who is married to Robert, has had a long-term affair with Robert's best friend Jerry. The opening scene is of Emma and Jerry meeting for a drink two years after their affair has ended. The play then works its way chronologically backwards in time, feeding us more details of their tangled relationships with each new scene.


The play provides a perspective into the way in which we might betray and deceive others, as well as the way in which we might betray and deceive ourselves. I thought it was an interesting look at the attempt to hold onto relationships even though they might not fulfill us or make us happy. Fear of change? Habit? Routine? Boredom? It was interesting watching the characters stumble through their relationships, sometimes as if on automatic pilot.


The best aspect of the play was in how it was structured: in reverse order from the end of the affair to the very beginning. I thought that was truly well done. In fact, what I found so interesting was how the characterizations were developed. By providing you with the ending first, the author allows you to make judgments about these characters, then challenges those judgments by providing more and more insight into their past.


Still, despite these interesting elements, I thought that overall the story was unremarkable.


Final Rating: 3 stars