The things people do to each other . . .in the name of love . . .
Falcon Theatre’s latest offering, Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal,” is – straightforwardly – a play about an affair. Inventively told through timeline switcheroos, we learn about the relationships between the characters as secrets are revealed, and betrayals are uncovered.
Director Becca Howell has cast four competent actors. Three of them carry the bulk of the show, while Lisa Dirkes takes advantage of her brief time on stage, showcasing her skills with accents and comic timing.). Samantha Luhn (“Emma”), last seen breaking the fourth wall in “Well,” returns to the Falcon stage in a stark departure from her last role. In “Well,” she was an insecure young adult trying to navigate the difficult relationship she had with her mother. In “Betrayal,” though, she is confident, bold, and broken. But instead of sharing her vulnerability with her husband or with her boyfriend, she keeps up appearances that all is well. Yet, because of her skill as an actress, the audience can see she’s ready to crack at any moment. It’s really a fine piece of acting.
She shares the stage with the wonderful David Derringer, who is charming and seductive as “Jerry,” the man with whom “Emma” has an affair. He also happens to be “Robert’s” (Aaron Whitehead) best friend. Both Derringer and Whitehead give nuanced, subtle performances. None of these characters ever scream or even appear to be angry . . . though Robert has a few powerful lines that cut like a knife. He’s not yelling, but the vitriol is evident. And Whitehead underplays it like a pro. I really enjoyed the performances.
This is a short play; there’s even an intermission, and it still didn’t last ninety minutes. The set changes are handled with smooth choreography when the equipment cooperates. (The bed and rug appeared to go rogue in the performance I reviewed.). The set is messy; contrasted by the put-togetherness of these characters, the random artifacts scattered throughout give the production a disjointed sense of identity, but that’s not bad, especially if done on purpose. I personally didn’t love that the bed is visible in every scene, even when moved off-center, but there are limitations to the space. Still, I wonder if there was a more strategic way to use the limited space to make things less cumbersome.
Despite the play being a bit of a time jumper, thanks to some creative sound design by director Howell, we are able to fairly clearly navigate the timeline shifts. The costumes by Tara Williams are straight out of the 1970s, and the music between scenes (and before the show) establishes the era well.
While I’m not sure that the script offers anything particularly revelatory or insightful about the world at large, it does examine relationship dynamics in powerful ways. This is not a play that leaves you with a lot of questions. However, this production is an entertaining way to spend an evening.
BETRAYAL runs through December 3rd at Falcon Theatre in Newport, KY. Click here for more information.