Bruce Cromer is one of our region’s finest actors, directors, and educators. However, ‘subtle’ is not the first word that comes to mind if describing him. His athletic and physical style on stage is one of the reasons he’s infinitely watchable (I could see his Scrooge year after year – and I do!).
But as the director of BETRAYAL by Harold Pinter, one of three plays performed in rep by Xavier this week and next, he takes a less extroverted approach. The very British material lends itself well to restraint but thankfully Cromer has Americanized the show enough to give it energy and life.
Part of this comes from the fine work of the two male leads, Eric Minion (“Roger”) and Mac Blais (“Jerry”). While they speak with nearly impeccable British accents, their zest and zeal is more common to what you’d expect on our side of the pond. Both do an excellent job.
In the play, the two men are best friends, now in the late 30s, married with children – and they share one very important thing in common.
Enter Maya Farhat as “Emma.” I’m not sure there’s a more consistently interesting and authentic actress on stage in Cincinnati than Farhat. She is effortless, yet completely and totally engaged in every moment. Her expressive face conveys so much emotion yet she never appears to be “acting.” She’s a complete pleasure to watch on stage.
This play could be incredibly boring if not for the wise oversight of Cromer and the engaging and charismatic cast. (Micah Price rounds out the foursome in a brief scene as an Italian waiter who got some nice laughs out of the opening night crowd.) I found myself drawn in, rapt with attention, and at times completely captivated by this story of infidelity, friendship, and romance.
I think you will be too.
The simple backdrops, minor adjustments to furniture and props on stage, and excellent choice of background music all support the overall vision. Costumes, lights, sound, and tech are all professional and all of the cast and crew that worked on this show should be commended.
I’ll be back on campus for the next two nights to see Regina Pugh’s direction of MISS JULIE and the playwriting debut of senior Xavier student Tatum Hunter (BEGOTTEN). Join me, won’t you? This emerging University theatre program is doing solid and important work.
BETRAYAL will be performed again this Saturday night, February 20th, at 7:30 and next Friday and Sunday at 7:30pm. Tickets and more information about all three shows can be found here.