Trafalgar Theatre, (1/05/1980 - 5/31/1980)

First Preview: Dec 22, 1979
Opening Date: Jan 05, 1980
Closing Date: May 31, 1980
Total Previews: 14
Total Performances: 170

Category: Play, Drama, Original, Broadway
Setting: England and Venice. 1977 back to 1968.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Nederlander Organization, Mr. Cooney and Mr. Marsh

Produced by Roger L. Stevens, Robert Whitehead and James M. Nederlander

Written by Harold Pinter

Directed by Peter Hall

Scenic Design by John Bury; Costume Design by John Bury; Lighting Design by John Bury; Sound Design by David Murdock

General Manager: Oscar E. Olesen

Production Stage Manager: Marnel Sumner; Stage Manager: Ian Thomson

General Press Representative: Seymour Krawitz; Press Representative: Patricia Krawitz; Casting: Terry Fay; Speech Coach: Timothy Monich; Advertising: Lawrence Weiner and Associates

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Opening Night Cast

Blythe DannerEmma
(Dec 22, 1979 - May 10, 1980)
Raul JuliaJerry
Roy ScheiderRobert
Ernesto GascoWaiter
Ian ThomsonBarman

Standby: James Hurdle (Jerry, Robert) and Caroline Lagerfelt (Emma)

Understudies: Ian Thomson (Waiter)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1980 Best Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Blythe Danner

 1980 Best Direction of a Play [nominee] 

Peter Hall

Drama Desk Award

 1980 Outstanding Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Blythe Danner


New York Daily News: "'Betrayal' a love affair seen in reverse"

The new Pinter play, "Betrayal," which opened Saturday night at the Trafalgar, has a happy beginning for its ending. But don't let that mystify you: This is a love affair examined in reverse, an illicit one in which we first meet the couple, friendly strangers now, two years after their parting. It is exquisitely told and beautifully done and, for a change in Pinter, the only enigma is the heart's great and insoluble one.

It is a play, in nine concise scenes (with intermission), consisting almost wholly of small talk, a play whose weight and meaning lie just behind the idle remarks and pulsate in the pauses. It is about love and affection and the evanescence of human relationships. It is also quite funny, with rue and laughter so closely intertwined that such a line as "Have you read any good books lately?" seems freshly coined.

There are just three characters, not counting a silent bartender in the opening scene and a comic Italian waiter in a later one. Jerry, a London writer's agent, has had a seven-year affair with Emma, wife of Robert, a London publisher and Jerry's best friend. Jerry and Emma met, or meet (for remember, we trace the affair backwards, with one or two forward leaps) on convenient afternoons in a small flat Jerry has rented. Their betrayal - Jerry is married, too, and both couples have children - leads to little lies. In the first scene, set in 1977, Emma tells Jerry she's been up all night wrangling with her husband, and during the course of it has revealed her indiscretion, whereas actually she had told Robert about it four years earlier during a holiday in Venice. Little lies become a habit. Robert, incidentally, has been cheating on Emma right along, and Emma, who runs an art gallery and is therefore able to sneak away afternoons, has taken up with Casey, the men's best selling author, since breaking up with Jerry.

As the years peel away, we see the lovers' gaiety and ardor grow stronger. In the final scene, taking place in 1968 in Emma's bedroom, where she has gone to freshen up while a party is going on downstairs, a slightly tipsy and bedazzled Jerry has cornered her. He pours out his feelings in the play's only sustained, lyrical outburst, and the piece ends (or begins) with a clutched arm as Emma is about to go out the door and rejoin her guests. Instead, held there for the moment, she must turn her head and, as their eyes meet, the betrayal begins.

Pinter's craftsmanship has never been so delicate and sure. While "Betrayal" may strike some as a slight work for him, it has the deceptive strength of a spider's web.

It is marvelously well acted. Raul Julia, his bespectacled Jerry looking almost the wimp in his neat, conservative dress and closely trimmed hair; Roy Scheider as the brisk publisher Robert, whose nervousness never gives way to ungentlemanliness toward wife and friend, except in one or two sudden and brief eruptions; and Blythe Danner as the coolly lovely Emma. The three are superb.

More and more, I come to find Peter Hall, who has staged most of Pinter's plays as well as many other fine things, practically matchless in his field, and his mastery has never been more evident than it is in "Betrayal." John Bury, who has also had a long association with Pinter, has designed a series of small, shallow sets in sharp perspective that are slid in from one side or the other and that perfectly express the surface artificiality of the play. Too, in the white light he has cast on most of them, they have a bleached-out look, like the lives portrayed within them.

"Betrayal" is a play of stray images, of three decent and likable people who find themselves, as if by the merest chance, turned a bit hollow. Its echoes will follow you all the way home.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Trafalgar Theatre

(1/5/1980 - 5/31/1980)


Caroline Lagerfelt
Emma (May 12, 1980 - May 31, 1980)

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