Infidelity, backstabbing and disloyalty were the order of the day in the Lier theatre on Main campus from early this month. Campus society The Inklings’ dramatic face was on show through different interpretations of Harold Pinter’s play Betrayal. Betrayal, told in reverse chronological order, takes place in the 70s and follows Robert (Georg Nöffke), his wife Emma (Michelle Joubert) and his “oldest friend” Jerry (Rick de Villiers). In the interpretation that was directed by Melissa Adendorff and Idette Noomé, Emma and Jerry have an affair.
Halfway through the play Emma is forced to confess her infidelity to husband Robert. Robert is aware of the betrayal from the first scene (the play is told in reverse chronological order), and the directing places the emphasis of the play on the sinister undercurrents between the characters. According to Adendorff, they wanted to focus on elements such as spatiality, body language and physical characterisation.
Aspects such as costume, make-up, props and lighting are adequately handled, but unfortunately the key idea of communicating a menacing and disgruntled Robert through subtle interaction between the characters doesn’t always come across effectively. Nöffke’s take on a creepy Robert comes across as comedic at times – which the audience enjoys – while Joubert starts off nervously but manages to finish with steadier acting.
When keeping in mind that Joubert, Nöffke and de Villiers aren’t seasoned actors but assistant lecturers in the English Department (and The Inklings is UP’s literary society and not UP’s Drama Department), the effort made by The Inklings can be appreciated. In terms of a critical overview, the interpretation doesn’t completely succeed as a suspenseful-dramatic play – close but no cigar for the literary society. However, in terms of staging a fairly enjoyable play that shows an intricate understanding of Pinter’s Betrayal, I’d say The Inklings can light their cigars and puff away.