Review: “Betrayal” captivates

Not many high schools do plays by Harold Pinter, the British playwright known for complex, difficult works marked by tense pauses. But Oak Park and River Forest High School took on one of Pinter’s most challenging plays, “Betrayal” – and succeeded.

The production featured a future-star studded cast: freshman Keagan Carey as Jerry, sophomore Alex Robinson Bellin as Robert, freshman Jeanine Brennan as Emma and senior Jane DiMaso as the Waiter.

Seeing young actors portray adult themes of infidelity, parenthood and drinking in almost every scene illuminated the actors’ talents. Every actor had to maintain a British accent throughout the entire play, which can make delivering lines more difficult. Nonetheless, the actors all played their roles masterfully.

The play follows the confuddled web of affairs between Jerry, Robert and Emma. Emma–who is married to Robert–and Jerry maintain a five-year-long affair, which Emma then reveals to Robert when he finds a letter from Jerry to her. Robert allows the affair to continue, though he abuses Emma in their own marriage. Robert reveals to Jerry that he had known about the affair the whole time but let it go on because Jerry is his “best friend.”

These events are revealed in reverse order, however, presenting the affair as a problem to be solved rather than the conclusion of the plot.

Backwards storytelling can sometimes make conveying the plot more difficult, but the directing of the play (by Lily Charkow) made the sequence of events clear while still keeping viewers in the dark before major twists.

DiMaso’s performance as the Waiter cut the tension of the play and had the audience–which filled every single available seat in Studio 200–doubling over in their seats.

In the scene, the Waiter serves Robert and Jerry some time after Robert initially discovers Emma’s affair. Robert chooses not to confront Jerry, instead taking him out to lunch and drinks as normal.

The Waiter’s exuberant adoration for wine, pasta and Italy starkly contrasts with the stoic fibbing that holds Robert and Jerry’s friendship together. DiMaso’s flawless delivery and embodiment of the character not only sold the audience on its authenticity but also reminded them of how strange the entire web of affairs actually is when contrasted with the normal people outside the main characters’ bubble.

Overall, the play was fascinating and funny in an unexpected way, given the darker themes of distrust and infidelity. It explored apathy, indulgence and the absurdities of marriage and friendships with tact, which would not have been possible without the incredible talents and efforts of the actors, director and crew.