By Roger Martin, ATCA
Ah, the happy night at the theatre when everything is just right, simply brilliant; an experience not often found. But, lucky you, there’s such a pleasure on display right now, thanks to Zoetic Stage.
They’re back at the Arsht Center with their production of Pinter’s Betrayal, a classic of the English stage. Marriage vows? Who needs ’em?
Two Oxbridge cads, life long friends and the wife of one who’s mistress of the other; love and rue through the years until the inevitable end. Which, as Pinter has it, is actually the beginning. The first scene is the final parting, the last the start of the seven year affair. And it works.
Chas Mena is Robert, publisher and cuckold. Nicholas Richberg is Jerry, literary agent and betrayer and Amy McKenna is Emma, Robert’s much wandering wife. To say that these three are terrific would be the understatement of the year.
Robert is the epitome of the well educated, blindly arrogant Englishman. Mena’s handling of the letter scene in Italy, tormenting, Emma, is a lesson for any aspiring actor.
Richberg’s Jerry is the vulnerable, guilty Best Man. His wife and two children weigh on him. He doubts her and himself. He loves Emma. Richberg, once again, at his best.
And McKenna’s Emma is the happy catalyst, queen of two homes and lover of two men. At least.
Stuart Meltzer’s smoothly unobtrusive direction has his actors moving in a constant dance of accusation and revelation on Michael McKeever’s beautifully designed two-level set, an all blonde wood, two tiered thrust with a large playing area. The actors, when not on stage, sit in subtly lighted archways on the upper level.
And Meltzer has added a sublime touch: bassist Dave Wilkinson playing ’60s inspired riffs during the eight scene changes.
Danny Llaca, student at New World, gets every minute of his small role as the waiter. More please.
Playing the pauses in a Pinter play (sorry) is an art more than ably demonstrated by this cast. There’s a constant edge to every second of the show and well done, Zoetic, for that.
The excellent lighting design is by Rebecca Montero with costume designs by Estella Vrancovich.