NT, poster for the 1998 production directed by Trevor Nunn
|Written by||Harold Pinter|
|Characters||Emma, Jerry, Robert, Waiter|
|Date premiered||15 November 1978|
|Place premiered||Lyttelton Theatre at the Royal National Theatre, London|
|Setting||London and Venice|
Betrayal is a play written by Harold Pinter in 1978. Critically regarded as one of the English playwright's major dramatic works, it features his characteristically economical dialogue, characters' hidden emotions and veiled motivations, and their self-absorbed competitive one-upmanship, face-saving, dishonesty, and (self-)deceptions.
Inspired by Pinter's clandestine extramarital affair with BBC Television presenter Joan Bakewell, which spanned seven years, from 1962 to 1969, the plot of Betrayal integrates different permutations of betrayal relating to a seven-year affair involving a married couple, Emma and Robert, and Robert's "close friend" Jerry, who is also married, to a woman named Judith. For five years Jerry and Emma carry on their affair without Robert's knowledge, both cuckolding Robert and betraying Judith, until Emma, without telling Jerry she has done so, admits her infidelity to Robert (in effect, betraying Jerry), although she continues their affair. In 1977, four years after exposing the affair (in 1973) and two years after their subsequent break up (in 1975), Emma meets Jerry to tell him that her marriage to Robert is over. She then lies to Jerry in telling him that, "last night", she had to reveal the truth to Robert and that he now knows of the affair. The truth however, is that Robert has known about the affair for the past four years.
Pinter's particular usage of reverse chronology in structuring the plot is innovative: the first scene takes place after the affair has ended, in 1977; the final scene ends when the affair begins, in 1968; and, in between 1977 and 1968, scenes in two pivotal years (1977 and 1973) move forward chronologically. As Roger Ebert observes, in his review of the 1983 film, based on Pinter's own screenplay, "The Betrayal structure strips away all artifice. In this view, the play shows, heartlessly, that the very capacity for love itself is sometimes based on betraying not only other loved ones, but even ourselves." Still, drawing on the frequently commented influence of Proust's In Search of Lost Time and Pinter's work on 1977's The Proust Screenplay on Betrayal, more emotionally complex interpretations are possible based on a stress on dual motions, one forward in calendar time toward disillusion and one backward toward the redemptive recovery of time, in each work.
London and Venice, from 1968 to 1977 (in reverse chronology).
The years between 1968 and 1977 occur in reverse order; scenes within years 1977 and 1973 move forward.
In 1977 Emma is 38, Jerry and Robert are 40. (n. pag. )
Betrayal was first produced by the National Theatre in London on 15 June 1978. The original cast featured Penelope Wilton as Emma, Michael Gambon as Jerry, Daniel Massey as Robert, and Artro Morris as the waiter; Wilton and Massey were married at the time. It was designed by John Bury and directed by Peter Hall.
In 1991, Betrayal ran at the Almeida Theatre directed by David Leveaux with Bill Nighy playing Jerry, Martin Shaw playing Robert and Cheryl Campbell playing Emma. The play was revived in the Lyttleton at the National Theatre in November 1998, directed by Trevor Nunn and starring Douglas Hodge, Imogen Stubbs, and Anthony Calf.
In 2007, Roger Michell staged a revival of Betrayal at the Donmar Warehouse theatre starring Toby Stephens as Jerry, Samuel West as Robert, and Dervla Kirwan as Emma. Pinter reportedly lunched with the actors, attended an early "readthrough" and provided some advice, which, according to Stephens, included the instruction to ignore some of Pinter's famous pauses (Lawson). In 2011, a new West End production at the Comedy Theatre, directed by Ian Rickson, starred Kristin Scott Thomas, Douglas Henshall, and Ben Miles.
Betrayal was revived at The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield - from 17 May 2012 to 9 June 2012 - as the climax of Sheffield Crucible's 40th anniversary season. It starred John Simm as Jerry, Ruth Gemmell as Emma, Colin Tierney as Robert and Thomas Tinker as the waiter.
The play had its American premiere on Broadway on 5 January 1980 at the Trafalgar Theatre where it ran for 170 performances until its close on 31 May 1980. The show was directed by Peter Hall, designed by John Bury, production stage manager Marnel Sumner, stage manager Ian Thomson, press by Seymour Krawitz and Patricia McLean Krawitz. It opened with Raul Julia as Jerry, Blythe Danner as Emma, Roy Scheider as Robert, Ian Thomson as Barman, and Ernesto Gasco as Waiter.
A 2013 revival starring Daniel Craig as Robert, his real-life wife Rachel Weisz as Emma, and Rafe Spall as Jerry opened on 27 October at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, and set the Broadway record for highest weekly gross the week ending 19 December 2013.
The 2019 West End production directed by Jamie Lloyd transferred to Broadway, once again starring Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox. It runs at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, with previews beginning 14 August 2019, and the official opening on 5 September 2019 in a limited run scheduled through 8 December.
David Berthold directed a production of Betrayal, designed by Peter England, at the Sydney Theatre Company, from 10 March through 17 April 1999; it starred Paul Goddard, Robert Menzies, and Angie Milliken.
In 2004, Theatre de R&D staged Betrayal's Cantonese version as the first production of this theatrical group. With the script translated to Chinese by Lucretia Ho, this production was directed by Yankov Wong, starring Lucretie Ho as Emma, Johnny Tan as Jerry, Karl Lee as Robert, and Kenneth Cheung as the Waiter.
In 2009 Italian actor and director Andrea Renzi brought the play to life in Italy. Famed Italian actress Nicoletta Braschi stars as Emma. Tony Laudadio plays the character of Robert. Enrico Ianniello plays the part of Jerry. Nicola Marchi plays the part of a waiter. The play has been very successful and has been touring in Italy for over two years and will return again in early 2012 with the same cast.
Adapted by Pablo Remón and directed by Israel Elejalde, it will be staged in Madrid at the Pavón Teatro Kamikaze from 12/03/2020 to 19/04/2020. Cast TBC.
In 2013 director Ciro Zorzoli staged the play in Picadero theatre. The characters were played by Paola Krum (Emma), Daniel Hendler (Jerry), Diego Velázquez (Robert) and Gabriel Urbani (Waiter).
It was staged by Nilüfer Sanat Theater during 2007-2008 season.
In the 2016-2017 season, it was started to be staged by the management of Ahmet Levendo?lu again at IMM City Theaters. The characters were played by ?ebnem Köstem (Emma), Gökçer Genç (Jerry), Burak Davuto?lu (Robert) and Direnç Dedeo?lu (Waiter).
Betrayal was inspired by Pinter's seven-year affair with television presenter Joan Bakewell, who was married to the producer and director Michael Bakewell, while Pinter was married to actress Vivien Merchant. The affair was known in some circles; when Betrayal premiered in 1978, Lord Longford (father of Antonia Fraser), who was in the audience, commented that Emma appeared to be based on Joan Bakewell; but the affair only became public knowledge after it was confirmed by Pinter in Michael Billington's 1996 authorised biography, and further confirmed in Joan Bakewell's later memoir The Centre of the Bed.
Pinter wrote the play while engaged in another long-running affair, this time with Antonia Fraser, which became a marriage in 1980 after he divorced Merchant. However, Pinter explained to Billington that although he wrote the play while "otherwise engaged" with Fraser, the details were based on his relationship with Bakewell.
"The Betrayal" (1997), episode 8 of the 9th (final) season of the NBC Television series Seinfeld (Sony Pictures), alludes overtly to Pinter's play and film Betrayal, which appears to have inspired it. Apart from the title, "The Betrayal", and the name of one-off character Pinter Ranawat who appears in the episode, the episode is structured and runs in reverse chronological order and also features love triangles as one of its central themes. According to Kent Yoder, all of these allusions were deliberate.
Bryden, Mary. Rev. of Betrayal (One from the Heart at The Camberley Theatre, February 2002). 204-06 in "The Caretaker and Betrayal. The Pinter Review: Collected Essays 2003 and 2004. Ed. Francis Gillen and Steven H. Gale. Tampa: U of Tampa P, 2004. 202-06. ISBN 1-879852-17-9 (10). ISBN 978-1-879852-17-4 (13). Print.
Canby, Vincent. "Movie Review: Betrayal (1983): Pinter's 'Betrayal,' Directed by David Jones". New York Times, Movies. New York Times Company, 20 February 1983. Web. 11 March 2009.
Merritt, Susan Hollis. "Betrayal in Denver" (Denver Center Theatre Company, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver, CO. 29 May 2002). The Pinter Review: Collected Essays 2003 and 2004. Ed. Francis Gillen and Steven H. Gale. Tampa: U of Tampa P, 2004. 187-201. ISBN 1-879852-17-9 (10). ISBN 978-1-879852-17-4 (13). Print.
Pinter, Harold. Betrayal. 1978. New York: Grove Press, 1979. ISBN 0-394-50525-5 (10). ISBN 978-0-394-50525-1 (13). ISBN 0-394-17084-9 (10). ISBN 978-0-394-17084-8 (13). Print. (Parenthetical references in the text are to this edition, ISBN 0-394-17084-9. Pinter indicates pauses by three spaced dots of ellipsis; editorial ellipses herein are unspaced and within brackets.)
Quigley, Austin E.. "Pinter: Betrayal". Chapter 11 of The Modern Stage and Other Worlds. New York: Methuen, 1985. 221-52. ISBN 0-416-39320-9 (10). ISBN 978-0-416-39320-0 (13). Print. Chapter 11: "Pinter: Betrayal" in Limited preview at Google Books (omits some pages). Web. 11 March 2009.