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Betrayal, written by Harold Pinter in 1978, received its first production by the Royal National Theatre, London, in the fall of 1979, where it went on to win several awards including the Laurence Olivier award for best new play of the season. Although Pinter has acknowledged that the play is inspired by his own extra-marital affair over a period of seven years between 1962 and 1969 with Joan Bakewell, then a television producer at the BBC, it is not by any means a factual account of that relationship. The play explores in reverse chronological order, over the course of nine years and nine scenes, the permutations as well as the web of truths and lies that forms the basis of the relationship between Emma, Robert, her husband, and Jerry, Emma’s lover and Robert’s best and oldest friend.
Martin Esslin, noted scholar and drama critic, said of this play:
“Pinter presents us with a symphonic structure of variations on the theme of betrayal that, ultimately, becomes an inquiry into the inextricable web of lies that constitutes the social relationships.”
Betrayal is considered to be one of Pinter’s major dramatic works and continues to be produced by theatres all over the world.
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