REVIEW: Betrayal (Oak Park Festival Theatre)

  
  

Who’s zoomin’ who? The tangled webs of betrayal

 

 

Oak Partk Festival Theatre - Betrayal 1 - photo by  Michael Rothman

   
Oak Park Festival Theatre presents
   
Betrayal
   
Written by Harold Pinter
Directed by
Kevin Christopher Fox
at The Performance Center, Oak Park (map)
through November 13  |  tickets: $20-$25  |  more info

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Nobody gets a break in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, now produced by the Oak Park Festival Theatre at the Performance Center of Oak Park. Everyone is suspect, everyone’s version of events is dubious, and unspoken motives lurk beneath the most mundane conversations. One fumbles to guess at what a character really means, whether he is repeating invitations to play squash or inquiring into the latest authors worth reading. Pinter’s highly educated and exceedingly well-mannered characters seem weighed down and contained by civilized behavior. A long-running adulterous affair, once discovered, instead of being the source of passionate rage or outcry is dealt with only in the most repressed and passive-aggressive ways.

Oak Partk Festival Theatre - Betrayal 5Director Kevin Christopher Fox well sustains the closed, inbred relationship between this terrible triangle. Jerry (Ian Novak) has had a seven-year affair with Emma (Kathy Logelin), who is the wife of his best friend, Robert (Mark Richard). Part of the intrigue of Betrayal is that Pinter starts the audience at the very end of Jerry and Emma’s affair and then winds backward, through all its stages, toward its origin. One sees what the affair has become before one sees how it began; one sees the relationship after the love has been exhausted, which gives a completely new twist on how one interprets the beginning, when Jerry woos Emma with an explosive profession of love.

Indeed, it interrogates Jerry’s motives for starting the affair with Emma or Emma’s motives for capitulating to Jerry’s effusive language. It interrogates Robert’s motives for letting the affair go on for so long, as well as his motives for ending his marriage to Emma. Who’s zoomin’ who—and what do they hope to get out of each power play or emotional twist?

The play is adultery viewed in hindsight, based upon Pinter’s own extramarital affair with Joan Bakewell, a BBC Television presenter, which lasted seven years. With the beginning placed at the end, one notices those inklings of repressed jealousy and competitiveness between Jerry and Robert taint the affair from the start and make its origins suspect. One hopes that, at least at the start, Jerry and Emma’s affair soared with the kind of romance that movies and advertising sell – but that is never certain. Nothing is ever allowed room for certainty in this play. Betrayal makes us doubt love itself, as well as the possibility for love’s survival.

Since we learn from the beginning that the affair is over, the rest remains with the characters’ interactions. Oak Park Festival’s production feels like it is operating with a slightly defective third wheel. Kathy Logelin’s performance pulls the greatest emotional impact—the burden of secrecy, lies and deceptive silence show up clearly in Emma’s face. Logelin’s emotional accuracy Oak Partk Festival Theatre - Betrayal 2wins sympathy for her character, in spite of the fact she is cheating on her husband and not totally truthful to Jerry. Mark Richard may have the least sympathetic role, cruel, dry and manipulative in his relationship with Emma. But one commiserates with his desperate defensiveness in the veiled conversations Robert holds with Jerry once he’s found out about the affair.

Ian Novak delivered an excellently timed and crisp performance as George Tesman in Raven Theatre’s Hedda Gabler—but, as Jerry, he’s still trying to find his way and his occasional slippage in English dialect certainly doesn’t help matters. Pinter writes Jerry so suspect that he comes across, at certain moments, as a real cad. However, Jerry’s cannot be a role totally devoid of sympathy or the delicate balance that leaves the audience in uncertainty becomes undone. Here is a character that at least began as a fool for love. His desire for a love larger than life is very like Madame Bovary’s–a deep, inchoate longing for something more than the finite emotional space that civilized society allows us.

   
   
Rating: ★★½
   
   

Oak Partk Festival Theatre - Betrayal 3

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Actor’s Equity is movin’ on up! (to the West side)

Via Chris Jones’ blog: The Theater Loop

Besides buying a new building, Actors’ Equity has plans to expand presence here in Chi-Town (i.e. which means more jobs!!)

Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States, has purchased its own building on Randolph Street just a block or two west of the core of Chicago’s theater district (click on map below to see exact location). And according to Steven DiPaola, the union’s assistant executive director for finance and administration, Equity is considering moving some of the union’s national back-office functions from New York to Chicago.

New location for Acor's Equity Association - 557 W. RandolphThe new office, located at 557 W. Randolph Street, will house the headquarters of Equity’s Central Region, an office that covers all Chicago theaters as well as such active theater cities as Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

“We’re going to have an expanded audition center and member’s center,” said DiPaola. “And we hope to bring in some arts-related tenants into the building.” That list is likely to include Equity’s credit union, as well as some external cultural organizations.

Says Mark Staples, senior vice president of Office Group, who facilitated the transaction: “With its immediate proximity to I-90/94, the Clinton Green Line L stop and both the Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station, 557 W. Randolph is a perfect match for Actors’ Equity Association,”

The purchase price was $2 million.  557 W. Randolph Street is a four-story building with about 21,000 square feet. Equity, which will occupy two floors beginning in 2010, will be able to lease the space that it doesn’t use.


For larger map, click on pushpin

Built in 1855, 557 W. Randolph was one of the very few buildings in its area to survive the infamous 1871 Chicago fire. According to a statement from the union’s agent in the transaction, Mark Stables, a senior vice-president at Grubb and Ellis Company, Equity was able to save “nearly a third of the asking price” by paying in cash in these tough times. Equity will be moving from less than 10,000 square feet of rented space at 125 S. Clark St.

“This move shows our confidence in Chicago and its theater community,” DiPaola said.

Equity has about 1,500 members residing in Chicago.

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