Emma and Jerry are wildly in love and regularly meet up in their secret apartment … but in the world of drama a plot like this is like Macbeth without the three witches – just plain dreary. However, if Robert is married to Emma and Jerry is Robert’s best friend, things become more a bit more intriguing. Throw in a time twist where the play is told in reverse chronological order and one can see why Harold Pinter’s play Betrayal is amongst the favourite prescribed reading material for second-year English students.
It is then a logical step that UP’s literary society, the Inklings, couldn’t resist staging Betrayal (in three unique interpretations) this year.
The first interpretation, which debuts on 3 June at 20:00 and plays again on 5 June at 15:00, sees a sinister Robert scheming and manipulating as he is aware of the affair from the start. This more dramatic version stars English lecturers Rick de Villiers and Michelle Joubert as Jerry and Emma respectively, with Georg Nöffke as Robert, and is directed by the Inklings’ Head of Drama, Melissa Adendorff. Adendorff, who is passionate about the production, describes Betrayal as a confusing love triangle – before exclaiming theatrically, “But you never really know who loves who!”
The second interpretation – staged on 4 June at 20:00 – puts a different spin on the same story when Jerry and Robert are the ones having the secret affair. According to Adendorff, this version – starring Hugh Becker (Jerry), Stefaan Grobler (Robert) and Melissa Adendorff (Emma), and directed by Heather McLachlan – is filled with subtle humour and playful innuendos.
The third interpretation (5 June, 8pm), starring the same cast as the second (except for Robert, who is played by Donald van der Westhuizen), explores the more traditional themes of Betrayal by focusing on Robert’s dismay and hurt at the disloyalty of his wife and best friend. The Times neatly sums up the possible complexities of such an interpretation by describing Betrayal and its themes as “not [about] sex, not even adultery, but the politics of betrayal and the damage it inflicts on all involved.”
So, what can students expect of the quality of this production? “People are curious to see how badly the Inklings can stuff up – they know we’re not drama students so they’re expecting a lot of laughs. But this year they’re in for a surprise …” says Adendorff with a twinkle in her eye.
Betrayal runs from 3 to 5 June at the Lier Theatre and tickets – are available from the Department of English tutors in HSB 16-4 at R35 each. For more information, visit the the Inklings on Facebook. Alternatively, contact Melissa Adendorff on 082 838 1834.