Yes, Betrayal is a major dramatic work by a Nobel laureate. But is this revival worth paying Broadway prices for a cast of 4½ with no orchestra and barely a hint of a set?

By Andrew Andrews

British playwright Harold Pinter’s story of a 1970’s extramarital affair, inspired by his own life, is most notable for being told backwards, from two years after the affair has ended until the moment it first sparked.

This is New York’s third revival of the story, having transferred from London where it just completed its seventh run.

Zawe Ashton and Tom Hiddleston portray the unfaithful couple Emma and Robert, with Charlie Cox as Jerry, Emma’s lover and Robert’s best friend.

Despite being slow-moving at times, with pauses so pregnant that they need a C-Section, the story is engaging because, let’s face it, the beginning of any romance is always far more exciting than when it peters out in the end, so working backwards is the perfect approach. And the actors do a fine job of portraying their characters, expertly delivering the classic dry humour that the Brits are known for.

But before you rush out and buy a ticket, let’s talk about the value that you’re getting for your money: unlike the large cast and elaborate farmhouse interior scene of The Ferryman, which preceded this production at the Jacobs Theatre, Betrayal has a cast of only four speaking actors and one laughing child, and the set is so beautifully sparse that it looks like it was built in a day from leftover props and panels. So just like an expensive handbag from a famous designer, where the only perceived benefit of ownership is that everyone will know how much you paid for it, the only justification for this high price tag is in the opportunity to see actors that you recognize from the movies and television, live and in-person before you.

Truth be told, just as a cheap Chinatown knockoff has the same style and can hold your belongings just as well as the real thing, I’d rate this performance five stars if it was downtown for fifteen, twenty or even thirty dollars. But if you’re looking to get the most bang-for-your-buck from a Broadway production, I suggest you spend your hard-earned money elsewhere. And if you want tickets to a show that’s every bit as engaging on a set that’s equally barren for a steal of a price, check out my recent review of Back.


Andrew Andrews attended BETRAYAL at Bernard B Jacobs Theatre in Manhattan on Thursday, August 15, 2019 @ 8:00pm to write this review.