Onstage: Dramaworks tackles Pinter play
Pause. Harold Pinter, the master of the pause, is a Nobel Prize-winning author and perhaps the most influential British playwright living today. What he is not, however, is produced much in South Florida. But leave it to adventuresome Palm Beach Dramaworks and Carbonell Award-winning director J. Barry Lewis, who tonight take the tiny professional theater on its first foray into Pinter's cerebral world with 1978's Betrayal. The play, a triangular drama of infidelity and other acts of betrayal, looks at a married couple, Robert and Emma, and their longtime friend, Jerry, who has carried on a seven-year affair with Emma. As to the frequently indicated pauses, "They become part of the dialogue," says Margery Lowe, who plays Emma. "You try to eliminate them and they start sneaking back in." "For some of them, I've gone, 'Why am I pausing here?,' But they're really good clues to what you're really doing in the scene," adds Michael St. Pierre, who plays her cuckolded husband, Robert. "It's how my character feels about what I am doing." Although the affair is at the center of the play, Pinter deals with a variety of betrayals. "It's a Catch-22," says Todd Allen Durkin, playing Jerry. "If I don't have (Emma), I'm betraying my own wants and needs. And if I do, I'm betraying their union and our union as best friends. So no matter what, it's a betrayal." "There are layers and layers and layers of betrayals here," notes Lowe. "It's not necessarily a play about infidelity, but obviously Pinter is saying that betrayal doesn't work, ultimately." "He's saying wouldn't it be nice if a man and a woman could be married and it would all work out and there would never be a problem, but let's face it, folks, life is a little messier than that," adds St. Pierre. "We want what we want and it's not something that's controllable." Betrayal is a deceptively complex piece of theater. On top of its emotional depths, you also should know that its nine scenes move backward in time. "In the beginning, we know more than the audience does," explains St. Pierre. "In the end, they know more than we do." The result is a challenge for the audience, as well as the actors. "This demands a ton from the audience," says Lowe. "It's very collaborative. They have to fill in the blanks." "They could not do that," chimes in Durkin, "but that would be a betrayal of themselves." Betrayal — Tonight through April 15, Palm Beach Dramaworks, 322 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach. Tickets: $38-$35. Call: (561) 514-4042.