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NY1 Theater Review: "Betrayal"

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Film stars and real-life married couple Daniel Craig and Rachel Wiesz are recreating "Betrayal" on Broadway. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

There are a lot of irresistible forces at work in this production. Daniel Craig and real life wife Rachel Wiesz turn it into Broadway's hottest ticket. It's one of the most celebrated of plays by the late great Harold Pinter. And if that's not enough, direction is by the legendary Mike Nichols. But all that star power doesn't necessarily generate total success.

The 1978 play is perhaps best known for its depiction of an extra-marital affair moving backward in time. It begins two years after the relationship has ended and then rewinds through nine scenes back to the beginning of the relationship in 1968.

But far more than a gimmick, the reverse order of events provides the audience with a unique perspective into the lives of sophisticated married couple Emma and Robert, and Emma's lover Jerry who also happens to be Robert's best friend.

Beyond the obvious, all three are betraying each other in various ways. And they're doing it with a British reserve that's likely to seem jarring to anyone who regards infidelity as a moral issue.

Outwardly, there's little emotion. It's as if Pinter is saying monogamy isn't worth the fuss anymore in civilized society. And in this rendering, the men seem more enamored of each other than the fetching Emma.

The trick to the play is conveying the roiling tensions beneath the characters' cool skins. Those famous Pinter pauses should speak volumes about their inner thoughts and motivations. The fact that they don't here is a problem.

Daniel Craig, Rafe Spall and Rachel Weisz are excellent actors but they're approaching the roles too bluntly. Under Nichols direction, we're missing the revealing subtext beneath the spoken words. Where there should be pain and loss, we're getting sex appeal and, oddly enough, comic relief.

Starry eyed audiences aren't likely to feel any disappointment. The actors look really good. But while everyone's busy betraying each other in this revival, what's not being betrayed is a sense that the betrayals matter all that much.

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