By Peter Maddern
When we join this play, one of Harold Pinter’s most acclaimed works, Emma (Alison Bell) is announcing to Jerry (Nathan O’Keefe), a man she had a five year affair with, that her marriage to Robert (Mark Saturno) is over. She tells him that her husband only became aware of their affair the night before but Jerry is soon to find out that was not the case.
From there we move back in time, some nine years to the nature of the various betrayals and how they began; they become betrayals of not only loved ones but of the individuals to themselves and it is all rather painful to observe.
Geordie Brookman’s production nails the emotional tension and heartache of these characters. Geoff Cobham’s lighting and set design ensures the minimal and at times painfully extracted dialogue is played out under spears of intense light. Scene changes early on make use of electro musical renditions of the beastly sound clothes racks on the move make in a dry cleaning shop,accompanying the same as they act as a curtain and prop supply for the players.
The tension developed peaks in the Venice hotel scene when a industrial can opener could not have matched for ferocity the ripping apart of the bond of trust Robert had previously sustained in his partner.
Alison Bell’s Emma is a delight of mixed emotions and that certain cavalier disposition to others she possesses in trumps. Similarly Nathan O’Keefe’s Jerry is a study of a pathetic man as naïve as he is gormless in his pursuit of well, it is not obvious. Mark Saturno, however for this reviewer, was the pick of the bunch for his portrayal of strength in the perpetual faith he sustains in his closest friends yet all the while possessed of a torrent of anger below his upbeat external bridge that the others seem to regard as a trait of weakness.
Brookman’s demands on all his players to hold their fire superbly builds up the tension leaving the Playhouse ominously silent (other than for the unfortunate ambient 10CC recording that blew the opening scene.)
Intense and withering theatre and sure to be one of the State Theatre Company’s best this year.
Kryztoff Rating 4.5K