Antony Coleman, Carly Graeme and Tom Fairfoot in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal. Picture; Supplied
This play is from the creative coffers of a Nobel Prize-winning English playwright, screenwriter, director as well as actor. 
It’s also saluted as one of Harold Pinter’s most dramatic works. With that in mind, there’s an immediate expectation for those going to see this production.

And director Greg Homann has enlisted South Africa’s crème de la crème - Antony Coleman, who recently won a Safta for Best Actor in a TV Soap for his role in SABC3’s High Rollers, Carly Graeme and Tom Fairfoot - to do justice to the sublime material they have to work with.

The combined years of experience brought to the table is impressive. What wasn’t, though, was the production. It lacked an emotional connection with the audience.

If I’m to be brutally honest, Coleman is the only silver lining in the production. He had such gravitas from the get-go and left the audience completely mesmerised as Robert.

Betrayal explores the psychological realism that comes from a husband learning of his wife Emma’s (Graeme) infidelity. Even worse, it’s been with his best friend Jerry (Fairfoot).

The play opens with Jerry and Emma bumping into each other at a party. Jerry’s exaggerated swagger combined with his thinly veiled attraction quickly turns into horror when Emma lets him know that her marriage is on the rocks and that Robert is aware of their affair.

With his confidence pricked, he meets Robert to explain or apologise.

Again, he is dealt another blow. Robert has known about the affair for a while but continued to maintain their friendship over the years.

And so the affair is unpacked with a string of flashback scenes to where, when and how it was conceived. Ironically enough, Emma is most unapologetic about the affair, whereas Jerry feels some remorse for betraying his friend. 

What was terribly distracting was his posture and mannerisms throughout the play. 

There were times where you couldn’t quite tell the difference between him “being” in an inebriated state with all that wine guzzling merited by the script or him working that swag, a little too casually.  

On the flip side, Coleman is the epitome of finesse. He delivers a commendable nuanced performance. Domingos provides a welcome distraction in the restaurant scene.

There is plenty of dry humour to add some levity to the drama. And the awkward silences emphasise the hollowness, remorse and, sadly, the acceptance, by those scarred by the act.

* Betrayal is currently showing at the Auto & General Theater on the Square till July 1.