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Maria Aitken Returns To The Huntington To Direct Harold Pinter's Razor-Sharp Drama Betrayal

(BOSTON) – Acclaimed British director Maria Aitken (Private Lives and Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps at the Huntington) returns to the Huntington Theatre Company to helm Nobel Prize Laureate Harold Pinter’s most accessible play, the Olivier Award-winning classic Betrayal. Aitken brings a unique relationship with the material, as she was herself directed by Pinter as a young actress.

Called “the greatest and most moving of all of Pinter’s plays” by The London TelegraphBetrayal is a searing drama that explores the complexities of human emotions, including love, guilt, and duplicity as it tells the story of a passionate, seven-year love affair between Emma and her husband Robert’s best friend, Jerry. The play presents the couple’s affair through a series of fragmented memories. The action begins in a pub in the spring of 1977 after Emma and Jerry’s affair has ended, and then moves backward in time to reveal how the relationship flourished and eventually began. The storytelling technique – innovative in its day and frequently imitated – illuminates the ways in which the couple betrayed not only their spouses and each other, but also themselves through faulty memory and false perception.

“Harold Pinter has been on the short list of playwrights I’ve wanted to include in a season since I arrived at the Huntington,” says Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. “Director Maria Aitken will bring sharp honesty to the play’s simple, spare beauty and a singular perspective as an interpreter of his writing.” Hear more from DuBois about Betrayal.

Betrayal is considered to be one of the most human plays by “the most influential and imitated dramatist of his generation” (The New York Times)as well as one of Pinter’s most personal. It is in fact a very close recounting of his seven-year relationship with Joan Bakewell, wife of director Michael Bakewell. The play debuted in London with Penelope Wilton, Michael Gambon, and Daniel Massey in 1978; Pinter’s film adaptation starring Patricia Hodge, Jeremy Irons, and Ben Kingsley was released in 1983.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

The cast includes:

  • Alan Cox (Jerry): The Caretaker at BAM, the national tour of Frost/Nixon, and Translations on Broadway;
  • Mark H. Dold (Robert): Absurd Person Singular on Broadway and Freud’s Last Session Off Broadway;
  • Gretchen Egolf (Emma): Ring Round the Moon and Jackie on Broadway, A Streetcar Named Desire (Guthrie Theater); and
  • Luis Negrón (Waiter): The Miracle Worker at Wheelock Family Theatre, Zeta! Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.

Harold Pinter (playwright) was a Nobel Prize-winning English playwright, screenwriter, director, and actor. One of the most influential modern British dramatists, his writing career spanned more than 50 years. His career as a playwright began with a production of The Room in 1957. His second play, The Birthday Party, closed after eight performances, but was enthusiastically reviewed by critic Harold Hobson. His early works were described by critics as “comedy of menace.” Later plays such as No Man’s Land (1975) and Betrayal (1978) became known as “memory plays.” He appeared as an actor in productions of his own work on radio and film. He also undertook a number of roles in works by other writers. He directed nearly 50 productions for stage and screen, and received over 50 awards, prizes, and other honors, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005 and the French Légion d’honneur in 2007.

Despite frail health after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer in December 2001, Pinter continued to act on stage and screen, last performing the title role of Samuel Beckett’s one-act monologue Krapp’s Last Tape in October 2006 for the 50th anniversary season of the Royal Court Theatre. He died from liver cancer on December 24, 2008.

Maria Aitken’s (director) previous Huntington credits include Private Lives, Educating Rita, and the pre-Broadway production of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. Additional credits include the Olivier and Tony Award-winning production of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, Man and Boy (Broadway and Duchess Theatre), The Gift (Melbourne Theatre, Australia), As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Quartermaine’s Terms (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Japes (Bay Street Theatre), Noël Coward’s Easy Virtue (Chichester Festival Theatre), Lady Bracknell’s Confinement (Vineyard Theatre), School for Scandal (Clwyd Theatre), As You Like It(Regent’s Park), and many others. She performed as an actress in London at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and in the West End, her leading roles have included Blithe Spirit, Bedroom Farce, Travesties, Waste, Private Lives, and The Vortex, among others. Her film credits include A Fish Called Wanda and others. Ms. Aitken is a visiting teacher at the British American Drama Academy, The Juilliard School, Yale School of Drama, New York University, The Actors Center in New York, and the Academy for Classical Acting. She is the author of two books, A Girdle Round The Earth and Style: Acting in High Comedy.

Scenic design by Allen Moyer (Private Lives and Educating Rita at the Huntington); costume design by Nancy Brennan (Educating Rita at the Huntington); lighting design by Philip S. Rosenberg (Private Lives and Bus Stop at the Huntington); original music and sound design by John Gromada (Educating Rita and All My Sons at the Huntington). Production stage manager is Marti McIntosh. Stage manager is Robin Grady.

SPONSORS

  • Grand Patron: Boston University
  • Season Sponsors: Carol G. Deane, J. David Wimberly
  • Production Sponsors: Gerry and Sherry Cohen

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON

Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston’s leading theatre company. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

 

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