A rarely performed play by Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter opened Thursday Sept. 27, at Auburn Public Theater. Betrayal, written by 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 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.
Harold Pinter was a London-based writer and activist, best known as a playwright. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005. His playwriting style was partially inspired by Samuel Beckett, and in turn has inspired writers after him, such as David Mamet and Tom Stoppard. Pinter was one of the most influential British dramatists of his time, the Comedy Theatre on London’s famous West End was renamed The Harold Pinter Theatre in his memory.
Auburn Public Theater’s 2018 production marks the first time that the award-winning British playwright’s work has been performed at the theater. The show is directed by Daniel Labeille, who has a long history in the theater world of Central NY. Labeille founded the theater program at Cayuga Community College over 40 years ago and directed 40 plays there, including: Scapino (Moliere), Waiting for Godot (Beckett), The Cherry Orchard (Chekhov), and Galileo (Brecht). He also served as adjunct faculty at Syracuse University’s Drama Department for over a decade. Labeille came out of retirement to direct this production, starring an all local and professional cast. The cast opening night included Kevin Shumway (Robert), Dave Tobin (Jerry), Maria DeMitchell (Emma), and Bob Frame (Waiter).