Monday, Sept. 16, 2013

Three People In Reverse

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The first thing I ever reviewed for print was a 2002 French film called Irreversible. It's a cleverly brutal film in which the scenes play out in reverse order. Pinter's Betrayal recently opened with Windfall Theatre. Written in the late '70s, it has the same type of reverse-order plot structure. It's not anywhere near as brutal as its cinematic progeny, but Pinter's Betrayal manages a staggering level of intricacy with simple dialogue that can feel every bit as emotionally caustic.

Somewhere in 90 intermission-less minutes of drama, Amy Hansmann is playing Emma. She's just handed her keys to Andrew Riebau who is playing the role of Jerry. The line of dialogue she's just spoken sounds something like: 


"I think we're making the right decision." 


What she means probably sounds a lot more along the lines of: 


"I think we're making a bloody awful decision, but it's the right decision if you're not going to disagree with me you cold, unbearable, selfish git." 


(Or words to that effect.) 


The thing is . . . you can read all that extra dialogue on Hansmann's face. She's brilliant enough about it to be subtle, so you have to pay attention, but it's clearly there. And I can see that on her face sitting in the front row, so why can't he see that on her face sitting right next to her? It's very engaging drama. 


And that's what I love about Pinter. And that's why its so cool to see it play out in an intimate studio theatre environment like the one that Soulstice is able to offer in the Tamsett Theatre. It helps that the cast here is really, really good. Hansmann and Riebau are excellent . . . at first it felt to me like Joe Krapf was kind of stiff in the role of Emma's husband Robert. Krapf plays the role with a kind of a detached brutality that thrives on an icy cold stiffness. It's as though he's playing some weird elaborate game of chess with the other two characters throughout the drama and Krapf seems to be taking great care to show that Robert is always thinking out several moves ahead of everyone else onstage. There's real emotion escaping through the stuffy poker face he's peering out at everything through. 


So anyway . . . truly loved the show. There's a more concise review of it in the next print edition of the Shepherd-Express.


Soulstice Theatre's production of Betrayal runs through September 28th on 3770 South Pennsylvania Avenue. For ticket reservations, call 414-481-2800.

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