With poetic precision, rich humour and an extraordinary emotional force, Betrayal charts a compelling seven-year romance, thrillingly captured in reverse chronological order. The complexities of the human heart are explored in this, “the greatest, and the most moving, of all Pinter’s plays” (The Daily Telegraph).
Betrayal was first produced by the National Theatre in 1978. The original cast featured Pinter at the Pinter company members Penelope Wilton and Michael Gambon.
Tell Me More
Marvel star Tom Hiddleston leads the cast of “Betrayal,” Harold Pinter’s richly complex drama cataloguing the demise of a scandalous relationship in reverse chronological order. If throwing shade and spilling tea are your thing, this 1978 play is the masterclass. Considered to be one of Pinter’s most renowned works, “Betrayal” is characterised by the playwright’s classic clipped dialogue, replete with withering silences, veiled insults, and passive deception. Hiddleston plays Robert, whose wife Emma has been carrying on an affair with the also-married Jerry for several years. When Emma finally confesses her wrongdoing to Robert, she also effectively betrays Jerry in the process given that Robert is his close friend. The innovative structure of the play zooms in on the moments when romance loses to deceit, emphasizing our human capacity to simultaneously love and corrupt one another.
“Betrayal” will bookend the yearlong lineup for the “Pinter at the Pinter,” season as produced by the Jamie Lloyd Company, rounding out an anthology of performances of the playwright’s beloved works to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his death.
What To Watch For
- “Betrayal” is famously based on true events, revealing Pinter’s seven-year affair with BBC television presenter Dame Joan Bakewell. In its 1978 staging, the playwright knowingly aired dirty laundry Bakewell never wanted exposed — leading her to announce her rebuttal in the form of her own play, “Keeping in Touch,” in 2017.
- Pinter wrote the screenplay for the critically acclaimed film adaptation of “Betrayal” released in 1983. The film starred Ben Kingsley in the role of Robert, Jeremy Irons as Jerry, and Patricia Hodge as Emma.
- The structure of the play is often thought to be heavily influenced by the work of Marcel Proust, more specifically by his novel “In Search of Lost Time.” Pinter was tapped as the screenwriter to adapt Proust’s work for the screen in 1972, only a few years before writing “Betrayal”.