REVIEW: Betrayal, Crucible

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IT’S odd to feel nostalgic about infidelity but it has to be said a world without mobile phones and social networking makes the seven-year affair in this Harold Pinter classic achingly plausible.

Set across the late ‘60s and ‘70s, Betrayal returns to Sheffield John Simm and Colin Tierney, stars of the Crucible’s 2010 hit Hamlet.

The pair are here expertly counter-weighted as supposed best friends Jerry and Robert who share the love of one woman, Robert’s wife Emma (played with unflinching grace by Ruth Gemmell).

Director Peter Hall places the focus firmly on the three main characters in a sparse set atop a glass floor covering discarded belongings as the story peels away the fabric and debris of a betrayal that for a large part is realised yet accepted by Robert.

That knowledge and Pinter’s taut, economical dialogue lend Tierney a compelling, quiet menace that exposes his wife and Jerry as weak, selfish, rather than rendering him a victim.

The chronology of the affair is turned on its head via numerous time-tagged scenes leaving Simm to do his best acting late on as he declares his feelings for Emma in a shambolic yet eloquent outburst.

The edginess and fluctuating dynamic the consequences of that moment creates is arguably at its most crystallized when the men do lunch years later, Robert having learned of the affair from a letter as Thomas Tinker’s poor waiter endures the tangible awkwardness.

Rightly delivered in one sitting, Betrayal is a vintage yet thoroughly relevant comment on the canker of misplaced love, deceit and wounded friendship. Continues until June 9.