Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal, ” from 1978, has always left me wondering about the wife we never see. A drama about infidelity—and its domestication and eventual terminus—the unspoken fury and frustrations are those of Robert, his wife Emma and their somewhat less complicated friend, Jerry. One night at a party, Jerry makes eyes at Emma and the result is “seven years of afternoons,” which sounds more like an extended run in therapy than an extramarital affair. The play starts two years after the liaison has ended and spirals back in time to that moment when the infidelity first began. In between, we see Robert and Emma’s strained marriage. Or Jerry and Emma playing house in the flat they’ve purchased for their romantic escapes. All is subtext—polite conversation that could be masking anything; dissatisfaction, desire, whatever. But as far as the play is concerned, the unseen wife—Jerry’s wife—is a non-entity. And yet surely she is just as betrayed as the central trio—and perhaps even a betrayer herself. Her absence has a poignancy not found in the suppressed emotions of the three self-involved characters we see on stage. But what this Steppenwolf revival has going for it are the kind of knifelike performances we have come to expect from ensemble members Tracy Letts (as Robert) and Amy Morton (as Emma)—their bedroom scene, as directed by Rick Snyder, retains a sly passive-aggressiveness—and Ian Barford (as Jerry), who, along with several other actors, is among the new Steppenwolf ensemble members named last month. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.