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Seniors stage 'Betrayal' as capstone
3/07/14

Three Alfred University (AU) senior theater majors have combined their time, energy, and talents to co-direct and perform Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” March 20-22 at 8 p.m. in the C.D. Smith Theater within Miller Theater. The performances are open to the public; admission is free.

Bellisant Corcoran-Mathe, Darren Palmer, and Jamal Welcome selected “Betrayal” for their senior capstone project. Considered one of Pinter’s best dramatic works, the play features his characteristically economical dialogue, characters’ hidden emotions and veiled motivations, and their self-absorbed competitive one upmanship, face-saving, dishonesty, and (self-) deceptions.

The play is told in reverse chronological order, starting at the end of the nine-scene play. Pinter’s particular use of reverse chronology in structuring the plot is considered to be innovative: the first scene takes place after the affair has ended, in 1977; the final scene ends when the affair begins, in 1968.

Inspired by Pinter’s clandestine extramarital affair with BBC television presenter Joan Bakewell, which spanned seven years from 1962-69, “Betrayal” involves a married couple, Emma (Corcoran-Mathe, Kendall, NY) and Robert (Palmer, Wingdale, NY), and Robert’s close friend Jerry (Welcome, Brooklyn), who is also married. For five years Jerry and Emma carry on their affair without Robert’s knowledge, until Emma, without telling Jerry she has done so, admits her infidelity to Robert (in effect, betraying Jerry), although she continues their affair.

In 1977, four years after exposing the affair (in 1973) and two years after their subsequent break up (in 1975), Emma meets Jerry to tell him that her marriage to Robert is over. She then lies to Jerry in telling him that, “last night,” she had to reveal the truth to Robert and that he now knows of the affair. The truth, however, is that Robert has known about the affair for the past four years.

Welcome came up with the idea to do this play as a senior project while he and Palmer were in an acting class together a few years ago. Corcoran-Mathe knew the play and was on board with their idea. The production will also count as Corcoran-Mathe’s Honors Program thesis.