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/.
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