Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

20/06/2008 - 19/07/2008

Production Details

Returning to their new home at the Herald Theatre on June 20th following their sellout season of RABBIT, Silo Theatre presents the work of one of the world’s most renowned writers, Harold Pinter, with his 1978 play BETRAYAL.

Silo Theatre is widely recognised for its hugely popular re-workings of modern classics such as UNDER MILKWOOD, THE WOMEN and THE REAL THING, and have selected Pinter’s taut celebration of passion as fertile ground ready to be mined by actors Colin Moy (In My Father’s Den), Michelle Langstone (McLeod’s Daughters) and Oliver Driver – who returns to the stage for his first dramatic role since 2005’s BASH. This production also continues Silo Theatre’s symbiotic relationship with London’s Donmar Warehouse, who revived the play to universal acclaim last year.

This trio of Auckland’s finest adopt roles that have been interpreted by actors such as Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche, Raul Julia, Ben Kingsley, Patricia Hodge, Blythe Danner and Liev Schreiber.

The high price of passion is examined when an illicit affair destroys a marriage and sabotages a friendship. Robert and Jerry were best friends. Robert and Emma were married. Jerry and Emma were lovers. Welcome to the tangled emotional world of BETRAYAL. 

Unconventionally, the play is performed in reverse chronology – starting at the poignant end of the affair and tracking back to its illicit first kiss; a storytelling technique used famously in the Christopher Nolan movie MEMENTO, starring Guy Pearce. This thrilling technique stops the audience from concentrating on cause and effect and making the associated moral judgements that a seven-year affair would trigger. Instead, the device throws up a magnificent puzzle for the audience to solve, with each character eliciting our disdain and admiration in different measures at different stages.

Harold Pinter has been heralded as one of the great writers of the past century with a large canon of which written for stage and screen. THE HOMECOMING, OLD TIMES and THE BIRTHDAY PARTY are widely regarded as theatrical touchstones, and Pinter himself has been greeted with every major award for stage and screen, including the Tony Award, Laurence Olivier Special Award, BAFTA Award and the David Cohen Prize.


In 2005, Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the highest honour available to any writer in the world. In announcing the award, Horace Engdahl, Chairman of the Swedish Academy, said that Pinter was an artist ‘who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday language and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms.’

Pinter’s BETRAYAL was provoked by the affair the writer had between 1962 and 1969 with British television presenter Joan Bakewell, while she was married to BBC producer Michael Bakewell, who was also one of Pinter’s best friends.

Featuring Oliver Driver, Michelle Langstone and Colin Moy
Designed by Rachael Walker, Zambesi and Jane Hakaraia

Monday and Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm

Bookings through THE EDGE ticketing on 09 357 3355 or

Tickets: $20-35

Oliver Driver, Michelle Langstone and Colin Moy
Rachael Walker, Zambesi and Jane Hakaraia

Driver a force to be reckoned with

Review by Shannon Huse 23rd Jun 2008

Off-stage, Oliver Driver polarises people in his various roles as Alternative TV station-owner, corporate MC and TV presenter, but in the Silo Theatre production of Pinter’s Betrayal it is clear he is a theatre actor with class.

In Pinter’s intriguingly ambiguous play of morals and manners, Driver gives a sensitive and restrained performance that teases out all the nuances of the script. [More]


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Frequent laughs at patent absurdities

Review by Sian Robertson 22nd Jun 2008

Betrayal is about Emma’s seven-year affair with Jerry, her husband’s best friend. The play begins at the end with Emma and Jerry’s awkward meeting two years after the end of the affair – the last time they saw each other. They attempt to be pleasant. They are, after all, dear friends…

Despite the technique of ravelling the story backwards, there are few surprises, in that the main events are disclosed in the characters’ reminiscing before they are played out on the stage. The point of the reverse chronology isn’t to withhold surprise plot twists, so much as to throw a spotlight onto the way in which people interact when they are withholding secrets, and how they skirt around the issues when they feel guilty or suspicious. None of the three main characters remember things quite as they actually happened.

Jerry is also married, but his wife Judith doesn’t appear in the play, nor do his children, though they are important to the story, as are Robert and Emma’s.

In true Pinter style, so much lies in the long pregnant pauses and the unspoken meaning underlying what is being said. The naturalistically understated dialogue also illuminates the characters’ awkwardness, embarrassment, and takes the audience into a very believable world of mundaneness and compulsion.

The Herald theatre has been arranged to accommodate extra seating along both sides of the stage. Although it was hard to tell from where I was sitting in the main tiered seating, it seemed that the actors’ carefully considered angles would make it watchable from all directions, the reduced stage also lending itself to the intimacy of the play’s many moments of tension.

The interesting thing about this play is that it doesn’t make it easy to decide who to side with. At first it seems to be Robert (played with a satisfying darkness and wry humour by Colin Moy) who has lost face, but his cards aren’t all on the table. Then we discover that the likeable but too smug Jerry (Oliver Driver) is the one who’s been kept in the dark. At least Emma knows where she stands – or does she? The question of who is being betrayed isn’t answered easily. No one is an innocent victim – they each have their secrets.

In typical English fashion, no one gets terribly upset, or at any rate no one shows it. We’re witness to surface ripples hinting at deeper currents. Self preservation has lead them to avoid plumbing the depths, and because of this, to be unable to communicate with directness or sincerity. This discomfort is epitomised in the final scene, describing the first stirrings of the affair, in which Jerry resorts to a plethora of ridiculous clichés to express the feelings he’s so unaccustomed to having.

The three main cast members give equally strong performances, with measured wit and a sensitivity to the layered motivations of their characters. Michelle Langstone captures in Emma the ebbing of a carefree youth giving way to tight-lipped cynicism (shown in reverse) – a woman who has both grown into herself and lost something of herself.

Betrayal goes both ways, every which way, in fact, as they have in a way betrayed themselves as well as each other. At turns frustrating, highly entertaining, and boring, Betrayal is uncomfortably true to life. It made me laugh frequently at the patent absurdity of the way we communicate and left me with something to go away and think about. 


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