Friday, June 29, 2007

RCubed Braves Betrayal

Challenged by the Evening Standard's Fiona Mountepleasant, Mr. RCubed sees a revival of Pinter's Betrayal at the Donmar.

But first RCubed notes that critics seemed to be very scarce at recent production of We That Are Left by Gary Owen at the Watford:

Why this difference? Well, first, the Donmar is much easier to get to:
just five minutes walk from Leicester Square tube. Second, Betrayal has namey actors in the two roles: Toby Stephens and Sam West. This article has been written before R Cubed has received Theatre Record from which to compare the ratings for Betrayal from each member of the Cretinue, but we predict with confidence that it will be raves all round not because the play is special but because the tradition of admiring the Naked Emperor’s clothes is so firmly
embedded in the Cretinue’s psyche. Their descriptions of his clothes have been deep-rooted and perverse for half a century and they have come to believe their own propaganda.

Compare the two plays. We That Are Left is a beautifully crafted
four-hander. Betrayal is a three-hander into which Pintsized has thrown the pointless part of a waiter who appears for under five minutes, brings wine to two of the characters and is artistically redundant. Perhaps Pintsized created the part to understudy the two male characters. Perhaps as a former jobbing actor himself he was trying to help solve Equity’s perennial unemployment problem. At all events the waiter in Betrayal has no bearing on the proceedings
whatever though he does add to the management’s pay roll...

...Pintsized’s Betrayal is a modest play by an immodest writer and is far inferior to We That Are Left. True, it ranks well above such forgettable rubbish as Moonlight and The Dwarfs but it requires first rate actors to make it work. We That Are Left would still be a good play if acted by amateurs; Betrayal with its two-dimensional characters, pointless pauses and an utterly redundant waiter would sag.

Turning to the Fiona Mountpleasant’s charming challenge to R Cubed to reappraise Pintsized’s work in the light of Betrayal, her critical hat is off the menu and safe, just. One play built on the clever idea of reverse chronology suggests that perhaps the Naked Emperor wears underpants now and then.

To the naked eye, this would appear a trashing of the play, but anybody who reads Mr. Cubed regularly will realize what a big step this represents.

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