Monday, November 4, 2013

Broadway Theater Review: Betrayal

Star Power Sells Out at the Box Office
By Lauren Yarger
Nine scenes, travelling backward in time, tell the story of Betrayal, Harold Pinter's 1978 play getting a sold-out Broadway revival thanks to the star power of Daniel Craig, a.k.a. James Bond, and his movie-star wife Rachel Weisz.

Stories that don't use chronological time lines, or which are dependent on film stars for box office sales, usually don't excite me, but this play, as directed by Mike Nichols, who is more than experienced at directing stars of stage and screen, is worth the trip.

Craig already proved himself to be a good stage actor when he appeared on Broadway a few seasons ago with Hugh Jackman in A Steady Rain. His return to the Great white way following his last Bond flick, "Skyfall," caused a rush on the box office, especially when it was announced that Weisz ("The Constant Gardener," "The Deep Blue Sea," "The Bourne Legacy") would be making her Broadway debut in the play alongside her real-life husband.

Joining them, as the third party in the triangle is Rafe Spall, also making his Broadway debut. Kind of have to feel for the guy. After the show, conversations alluded to "Daniel Craig" and "The not Daniel Craig guy." Even more intimidating must be having to get rather intimate with James Bond's wife...

The story follows the relationship between Emma (Weisz) and Jerry (Spall) who meet up in 1977 after not having seen each other for two years following an affair of seven years. She is married to his former best friend, Robert (Craig) and is thinking about leaving him after a fight the night before. She felt a need to see Jerry and asked him to meet her. It's obvious that the sparks between them are not extinguished and that the embers could reignite given the chance.

The scenes that follow take us backward in the relationship -- to 1975 -- the last time they did see each other, when they called off the affair -- and to various stages of the relationship over the years, back to its beginning in 1968. It goes from exciting to mundane, but never is perfect. Emma always seems to want something more. She endeavors to make the apartment they use for secret rendez-vous a home, but how can it be when their homes, with spouses and children, are somewhere else? Ian MacNeil uses simple set pieces to create locations. The illicit apartment is very boring, in a gray shade of blue, indicating a lack of warmth.

Pinter's usual repetitive dialogue is annoying, but the structure is smart and when we get to the beginning of the relationship, we're left with some new thoughts about just who has betrayed whom.

Craig and Spall are very good and even a fourth character, a waiter, played by Stephen DeRosa, stands out in his small role. Weisz seems less comfortable in her role, but holds her own.

Betrayal plays through Jan. 5 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th St., NYC. http://betrayalbroadway.com/.

Christians might also like to know:
--Language
--Sexual activity

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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