What did critics think of Betrayal starring Tom Hiddleston at the Harold Pinter Theatre?
One of the most-anticipated productions of the year, the West End revival of Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre received praise from numerous theatre critics. Tom Hiddleston, Zawe Ashton and Charlie Cox star in the final production as part of the Pinter at the Pinter season directed by Jamie Lloyd, in a play about love, relationships and infidelity. Loosely based on Harold Pinter’s own life, Betrayal is said to be one of Pinter’s finest works, first performed in 1978. Read what theatre critics from the West End said about Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
“It is stylishly staged with minimal sets and props (four bottles stage left, three movable walls, and two chairs) that are placed on a revolve and reconfigure the space constantly… this is a magnificent, searing account of Pinter’s most autobiographically charged play… and it brings Lloyd’s classy season of Pinter at the Pinter to an end with a fine flourish.”
“Betrayal is notionally Pinter’s most accessible play, and is staged frequently, often with celebrity casts and safe productions. But I’ve never seen a production before that has made such sense of it for me, and has been so daring in the staging… there is a point in Betrayal where we see something utopian – a relationship between three people that is beautiful and blissful and transcendent of the individual, even if those involved will never know it.”
“The focus is on the play’s psychological intricacy and on the acting. Hiddleston, especially, is superb in conveying Robert’s unhealed emotional wounds… the revelation of this excellent production is its reminder that betrayal is never-ending and that the one deceived forever haunts the imagination.”
“[Jamie Lloyd’s production] not only re-confirms Betrayal as a modern masterpiece, built to last, but reassures us that Hiddleston has got the theatrical acting chops to head up there among the greats.”
“All three actors are at ease with the rhythms of Pinter’s language and at filling the spaces between their words with meaning, be it loss, longing or recrimination. There’s an ease and chemistry between them as a company. Lloyd’s production is controlled, nailing every beat, while also bringing out from the text a surprising amount of humour and warmth, finding laughs even in its bleaker moments.”
“Everything in Lloyd’s minimalist staging feels precisely calibrated. Whenever two of the characters are conversing, the third lingers in the background. Silences are extended, so that we concentrate on the eloquence of gestures and facial expressions… this sparse, elegant production closes Lloyd’s revelatory and handsomely cast season of Pinter’s shorter pieces in the theatre that bears the playwright’s name.”
The audience has the gift of hindsight straight from the beginning, which is then used to tarnish their judgement of the whole affair. Direction wise, this means that Lloyd sets the stage in order to toy with perception and projection. The star power certainly works, but it’s just one aspect of the brilliance of this last instalment. Lloyd’s direction, combined with the depths of the intricacies of the text, is enough to make the show a well-rounded success of its own.”
“Hiddleston wields knowing amusement like a weapon – but when the emotion comes, oh my god it really floods. There’s an astonishing, long-held moment when he looks at Ashton – his brow somehow a repository for years of bruised tenderness. In a silence, his eyes fill with tears, and it barely feels like acting at all. In moments such as this, Betrayal does illuminate the heart.”
“Lloyd’s approach does give vital space for the actors to explore, and a dynamite set of performances amply rewards it… Ben and Max Ringham contribute an evocative sound design, with records scratching and skipping as a clock ticks insistently… a searing climax to a thrilling season.”
The Arts Desk
Photo credit: Marc Brenner