‘Betrayal’ at Winneshiek.
By Sue Langenberg
Winneshiek Playhouse opens the play “Betrayal” this evening. The drama by Harold Pinter was written in ’78, fittingly following his own extra-marital affair and thus inspiration for this extra-marital presentation.
There are only three characters in the cast, the dynamics of which automatically conjure the “three’s a crowd” phrase and all the jealousies to accompany affairs of passion and dispassion. Though there’s nothing new under the sun since Shakespeare’s sexual innuendoes, Pinter presents the action in reverse chronology, meaning that the upshot of the whole affair is at curtain. Then, scene by scene, the scandals and betrayals involving two marriages, two families and two lusts gather dramatic steam as time moves backwards. Indeed, it’s an ingenious ploy to trick the audience into a convincing suspension of disbelief.
Stephanie Thompson-Perkins was excited to direct her first play at WP. The experience was not her first encounter with the workings of stage and production, however. Trained in dance by the late Jill Johnson at Studio 121 in her high school years, Thompson proved early to be a natural performer. Her second act role in Johnson’s, “Enchanted Attic” (circa ’94), as the leader of the dysfunctional marching band was stunning proof of her stage presence that sent an aura of confidence from her soul to the back row.
Since then, Thompson has choreographed some 15 seasons of Freeport High School’s stellar “Showtime” all while teaching third and fourth grade in the district. This fall, she will choreograph Tim Connors’ FHS production of “Grease.”
While Thompson-Perkins brings many of her own stages to the WP stage, she credits the chemistry of this cast and all those involved with the production. “This is community theatre,” she says, emphasizing the word “community” and mutual respect where everyone works together. She is also excited about fresh faces on the board with a healthy rapport for moving the theatre forward.
Character roles by Nikki Sands, Adam Moderow and Andrew Reid were a good mix of contrasts and versatility. Sands, as Emma, was icy when called for, emotional when called for and able to haul off the pregnant pauses when called for. Reid, as betrayed-against husband Robert, was coolly proper and stuffy with a seemingly secret agenda to trap everyone into their own misbehavior. His gradual drunk episode in scene VII was commendable as his character slipped through the cracks. Moderow as Jerry was a believable contrast with his volatile emotional ups and downs about love and lust.
Pinter intended for merely one extra part of the high-end restaurant waiter in the drunk scene. The role was played by Trent Walker, whose disdain, accent and staid properness was commendable as was the non-speaking role of bartender Sam Wool, whose washing of wine stems and being official was equally important to the scenes.
As lighting is a character in itself, Craig Downing can be commended for that, as well as ‘60s and ‘70s costumes by Lucy Rolloff. Be prepared to take a pleasant trip down memory lane between The Beatles and Neil Diamond between scenes.
All nine scenes, seem to have wine stems and various liquor decanters all quite in use as props. Be prepared to want to run out for a bottle of wine after this play!
“Betrayal” runs five performances September 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Winneshiek Playhouse, tickets at 815-232-7023 or tickets at email@example.com.