Posts Tagged ‘The Homecoming’

A note from your regular Theatre Punk, Lauren…

I’ll admit it. Pinter is one of those playwrights that I simply cannot sit through. It may be seeing one too many dreadful student adpatations, it may be that 4500 word essay I had to write on the the Homecoming during my time at university, or maybe he’s just not really my style. Whatever the reason, despite a fair amount of buzz, the prospect of seeing Betrayal at the Comedy Theatre left me in a cold sweat with a feeling of dread consuming me. Pinter himself could not convince me to part with my hard-earned cash, so instead of dragging myself out and writing an incredibly biased review, I present to you my fellow TheatrePunk Eliza, who isn’t nearly as bile-filled and hateful, and has very kindly written up her thoughts on the show! Over to you, Eliza…

03/08/11

I had the extreme fortune on Wednesday (thanks to a wonderful and spontaneous aunt), to get a chance to see Pinter’s Betrayal at the Comedy Theatre, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Douglas Henshall and Ben Miles, with a brief, but entertaining appearance from John Guerrasio as an italian waiter. The run ends on 20th August, and with an imminent trip to Scotland coming up, I was afraid I was going to have to let it pass me by. 

I have been an embarrassingly late fan of Scott Thomas since “Keeping Mum”, however cannot profess to having dug out all her past work, and was well aware of the responses from this production. With this in mind, the excitement I felt was coupled (as tends to happen with expectation) with the fear of let-down and disappointment, but I needn’t have feared. From the opening scene, which radiates awkwardness and unforgotten intricate memories, the three main actors retain a startling level of intensity throughout, not allowing it to drop even a fraction during the perfectly timed comic reactions. 

Playing out backwards over the years, the play is inspired by Pinter’s affair with Joan Bakewell, the BBC Television presenter, and delves into the lusts, joys and losses of three people stuck in a marriage of deceit and convenience, as they cheat, lie and hide secrets from one another. 
 
Scott Thomas shows what she’s made of as Emma; wife of Robert (Miles) and lover of his “Oldest friend and best man”, Jerry (Henshall). She transforms before our eyes as the years roll back, Emma becoming more lively and clearly in the throes of a dangerous and exciting relationship.
 
Henshall’s portrayal of Jerry, as a quieter and more subtle force, with his lilting scottish accent, stands beautifully next to Scott Thomas’ more outward character, who’s movement, and reactions to the two men, showcase her emotions which are never too far from the surface. Shown to great effect in the fourth scene, Emma is cradled by husband Robert, who Miles plays with fantastic enthusiasm. With brilliant comic timing, and a powerful voice to match, Miles creates a very different character to that of Henshall’s. His brash, rude and sarcastic manner is used to great effect in hiding the emotional difficulty of the reality of their marital situation. He appears to be an independent man, however unable to extricate himself from the web of his marriage. The ongoing and inevitable emotional turmoil these three characters are cursed with, make for moments of heartbreaking viewing as they each discover moments of unknown vulnerability and bear the knowledge of being betrayed by those closest to them.
 
The final scene falls at the beginning of the affair, at a party. Emma is young, vibrant and desirable. As the curtain falls, Jerry grabs hold of his lover’s hand and Scott Thomas gives a disarmingly knowing smile, as though aware of what is to come.
 
This is an outstanding production, with stellar performances from all cast members. All I can say is, thank goodness I had the chance to get a ticket!
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