Theatre Review: Betrayal

Faith Turner as Emma

Faith Turner as Emma - Credit: Archant

It is a brave step for an amateur company to tackle much-loved classics of British theatre - which is sadly why so much Shakespeare comes a cropper.

L-R Adam Nichols as Robert, David Fabbro as the waiter and Ed White as Jerry

L-R Adam Nichols as Robert, David Fabbro as the waiter and Ed White as Jerry - Credit: Archant

But there was no such question mark over the wisdom of OVO taking on one of Harold Pinter’s greatest works, Betrayal because they approached it with confidence and brio.

With no interval, the OVO production at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans where they are the resident drama company, was an excellent example of how to make a classic play totally compelling.

And what was even better - and demonstrates that OVO is making headway in putting the arts theatre on the map - is that there was barely an empty seat on Friday night and the audience were extremely receptive to what they saw.

Betrayal is perhaps best known as the play which largely travels back through time from the end of the affair between Jerry and Emma to its start at the home she shares with Robert, Jerry’s best friend.

Themes of betrayal permeate the play - not just the fact that Pinter wrote it about his own affair with broadcaster Joan Bakewell but also betrayal in marriage, friendship and work.

There are only three in the cast - and none of them could be faulted. Faith Turner took the pivotal role of Emma, married to Robert but having a passionate affair with Jerry.

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She has a fine acting range and captured Emma as, in turns, she appeared strong and then vulnerable as the affair unravels. Ed White as Jerry is always a pleasure to watch on the St Albans stage and again, he does not disappoint.

His Jerry is not a strong character but an attractive one and even if you did not know how his affair with Emma was going to end, it would come as no surprise.

For he is no match for Robert, a welcome return to the local stage for Adam Nichols who founded OVO and is the company’s artistic director. He brings out the Machiavellian nature of the character with a controlled performance which was spot on.

The production on the sparse Maltings theatre stage had plenty of nice touches including the way the actors ‘performed’ as they moved the props around for the various scenes and the compelling video interludes created by another local actor, Simon Nicholas. The whole creative team had clearly thrown themselves heart and soul into this fine production.