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Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013

Three People Seen In Reverse

betrayal
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There can be purity and simplicity in a play about a woman, her husband and her lover. Given the opportunity to breathe on an intimate studio theater stage, Harold Pinter’s Betrayal has emotional gravity to draw in an audience. Soulstice Theatre stages this gravity quite well in its current production.

Amy Hansmann plays Emma. She’s pursuing happiness between two different people who don’t quite match with her the way she needs them to. So she’s very alone with both of the men she’s onstage with. Of the three characters, she probably says what she means the least often. Hansmann plays Emma’s dishonesty with a heart and compassion that is crushingly sympathetic.

In the hands of Andrew Riebau, Emma’s lover Jerry is the most aggressively passionate character in the trio. We don’t notice this at first, of course. The events of the play happen in reverse. As the play opens we see him quite stoic and motionless and seemingly emotionless. At the end of the play he’s just gotten her alone for what may be the first time ever and the romantic passion is poetic and explosive. It’s quite a journey in reverse. Seen here, Riebau is a great nonverbal storyteller with casual gestures, expressions and intonations.

Finally, there is Joe Krapf in the role of Emma’s husband Robert. Krapf plays Robert as a brutally concise intellectual who seems to be playing some strange, abstract game of chess throughout the entire play. The character is not without his humanity and it’s particularly fun seeing Krapf bring that out of the character by degrees and subtle shades. It’s not an easy thing for any actor to portray a character this seemingly inhuman. Krapf plays it quite well.

Soulstice Theatre’s production of Betrayal runs through Sept. 28 at the Keith Tamsett Studio Theatre (3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave.). For tickets, call 414-481-2800 or visit soulsticetheatre.org.