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AVID and Tangled Web Theatre Productions’ latest offering Betrayal retells the classic love triangle of a man, his best friend and his best friend’s wife. Inspired by true events and based off Nobel Prize-winner Harold Pinter’s extramarital affair with BBC Television presenter Joan Bakewell, the arresting drama weaves a web of deception, double-speak and scandal. Milk Bar Mag attended the opening night and was impressed by the enthralling journey of Jerry and Emma’s affair, and the lengths they took to keep it a secret. 

Split into nine acts, spanning 1968 to 1977, opens with Jerry (Tim Constatine) and Emma (Eleni Miller) meeting at a pub in London. Their conversation is terse; sexual tension bubbles beneath the surface. Jerry recounts how he picked up and threw Emma’s daughter, Charlotte, in the air in her kitchen. Emma, reserved and closed-off, curtly corrects him that it was his kitchen. Their awkward exchange ends Scene 1 but as the play progresses, we see the happier moments in their affair, including the moments spent at the love nest they purchased together. The major question is not whether Robert (Michael Fenemore) is aware of the affair, but for how long, resulting in some gripping and knife-twisting exchanges. 

The non-linear narrative works in Betrayal’s favour as each layer of the intricate story is peeled back with theatrical precision. The major highlights include Robert and Emma’s trip to Venice, the significance of which has far-reaching results for the trio, and Emma’s heartbreaking realisation that the future she dreamt of is slipping away from her. 

Where Betrayal fails is the amount of dialogue that was used to tell the story; at times it felt big moments in the narrative were dwarfed by intricate conversations when all you wanted to see was a pay-off. All in all, the production showcases how often love and desire are mistaken for one another in relationships.  

Northcote Town Hall, 189 High Street, Northcote

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