BWW Review: BETRAYAL at 4615 THEATRE COMPANY
Because infidelity and adultery have been so frequently deconstructed in theatre, film, television, and literature during the four decades since Nobel Prize and Tony Award winner Harold Pinter wrote Betrayal, the play's novelty has rather worn off. But that does not get in the way of this production by 4615 Theatre Company. A trio of acting gamers ably meets Pinter's challenges, the toughest of which is that each of these three characters betrays the other two as well as him/herself. Betrayal remains a great piece of work about three real pieces of work.
Jared H. Graham plays Robert with efficiency and a touch of old-school, British stiff upper lip. Matt Dewberry's Jerry must shift internally through a catalogue of emotions; Dewberry's precision could never be carried off by the constantly mutating Jerry. And Dewberry deserves battle pay for enduring the layers of sweater, coat, and scarf in which he's costumed for the opening scene ("Pub. 1977. Spring. Noon." really?) in this barely air conditioned space on 14th Street. (The audience, though more weather-appropriately dressed, suffers too. The company has cast skilled actors, capable of vocal projection over any necessary hum. Turning air conditioning off or down during a brutal DC summer seems questionable marketing.)
Caroline Dubberly understands the best of the three that each of Pinter's nine scenes manifests as a one-act play for its characters. Her particular set of skills is making an audience forget that Emma is the same person each time she appears. Director Stevie Zimmerman has dutchmanned each scene to its successor with business, behavior, and eye contact so that Betrayal seems as through-composed as a Wagner opera or a Sondheim musical. The author thought that Betrayal could be performed with or without intermission; Zimmerman's work proves that the play works best when uninterrupted.
Costume Designer Kiana Vincenty employs color with subtlety to suggest the inner lives of the characters through the times of their lives. Jon Medley's lighting uses up to date, industrial strength instruments somewhat heavy-handedly for the small space, often blinding the audience. (Anybody else miss shutters and barn doors?) Kathryn Kawecki's Scenic Design helps the actors change worlds and guides the audience through Pinter's ever-altering indoor landscapes.
(Matt Dewberry as Jerry and Caroline Dubberly as Emma
Ryan Maxwell Photography)