MAC Summer Theatre’s production of Harold Pinter’s one-act from 1978, Betrayal, opened in the Arts Center’s Grosh Performance Hall Thursday night. Only two further chances to see this play remain, Friday night and Saturday.
I’ve often been challenged by “Show Me” folk (not always from Missouri) to “give me one good reason.” OK, whether you’re in show-me mode or not, let me give you plenty of good reasons, at least one of which may strike you as good enough to get you to this show.
First of all it’s Pinter, he of the crisp and cryptic dialog and significant pauses. And not just Pinter, but fully intelligible Pinter. Almost user-friendly Pinter. No scary threats, no aura of menace, no really creepy ambiguities. It’s all pretty much out there for you take in, straight up.
Even though it’s mostly straight up, it’s still crooked enough, tangled enough to be intriguing. There’s a mystery about it that unwinds in a thoroughly fascinating way, so you won’t find yourself starved for stuff to ponder.
It’s a wonderfully efficient script that whisks you through a number of years in under 90 minutes. It’s actually supposed to run non-stop so as to maintain momentum, but the 10-minute intermission our production takes doesn’t seem to make much of an interruption. In fact our director, Dillon G Artzer, keeps the tempo judiciously brisk, not too fast to follow and never so slow it sags.
Our three principal cast members are remarkably well-fitted to their roles and manage to convey their Brit-ness with splendidly stiff-upper-lip aplomb. They each bite off their crusts of speech as if born to the job. Since this is a play carried equally by the three leads, any weakness in any of the trio lets down the whole side, so the three—Ryan Andrew Bruce (Jerry), Kyle Myers (Robert), and Lisa Erbe (Emma)—must share the praise for the effectiveness of the presentation. But David Ollington’s amusingly proper Italian waiter deserves a special word of praise for his impeccably executed vignette.
The costumes (and quick costume changes) are almost enough in themselves to justify the cost of admission. And don’t think because the cost of admission is a mere ten bucks (five for military and students), that that’s faint praise.
Your attendance will be considered a vote in favor of keeping serious drama on stage at the Arts Center, and will certainly be appreciated by the show’s cast and production crew, all of whom have labored long and hard to provide this community with some really quality stagecraft.
Your attendance will also, of course, count as support for the arts in general. If the arts in Manhattan and in the state at large are to continue to prosper in the face of the defunding of the Kansas Arts Commission, all those of us who care about the future of the arts must rally to its cause, and turning out in large numbers for arts events is one of the most visible demonstration of our convictions.
And did I mention that it’s Pinter?