Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Teatro Pinas Review : Love’s Irony with Repertory Philippines’ Version of “Betrayal”

Teatro Pinas Review : Love’s Irony with Repertory Philippines’ Version of “Betrayal”

How do you feel about this story?


The night is calm for a post-love month show at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza in Makati City. “Betrayal” originally a 1978 play by renowned British playwright Harold Pinter has been adapted in various theaters globally, and this time in the Philippines under the direction of well-known Filipino director Victor Lirio. We watched the opening show last March 1, 2024 (Thursday) night with a seat on the balcony, which felt like peaking in the conversations of the characters. 

The story was based on the extramarital affair of the playwright Pinter that spanned seven years between 1966 and 1977. A year later, in 1978, the play was launched. The story is played in a reverse chronology starting with the most recent encounters retelling scenes of earlier years. There are only four characters, Emma, Jerry, Robert, and the waiter.

Lirio’s rendition developed the stage setting incorporating mainly an art gallery featuring a large painting by Pacita Abad, an Ivatan who later became an American citizen. The stage had little color and furniture yet looked full enough to highlight the characters in each scene. Lighting guided audiences on where to focus in each movement. The sound was so clear even with the couple’s kisses and pouring of wine into a glass. Each scene was serene to highlight the character dialogue. Each dialogue selected words that help define the changing scene and timeline played. Each scene was rich with words, emotional pauses, and intimate dialogue making audiences gasp, and giggle at the moment’s mood. Characters were dressed in modern elegant attire, a viewer would be curious about which brand of clothing they wear.

The scenes were many but short all summing up in an hour, but captured the audience’s full attention in those moments. Bravo! it is a unique performance in the Philippine setting. Love as a topic with conflicts and affairs in a dominantly Catholic country is demonstrated in the most polite civil manner in the dialogues of the characters. There is almost none of the shouting, and violence to demonstrate disdain in the extramarital affair. It was a mix of stillness and intimacy for both genders as topics on relationships among friends and married couples filled the play.

Filipinos on the mundane less chaotic side of society may appreciate the exploration of sentiments among parties with understanding and curiousity. Is it more fulfilling to follow personal desires than society’s morals? Is it better to be civil or polite about matters with deceitful relationships? How far can secrets be kept when trust is at stake? The conflict that the characters at the point of sophistication in their family and careers try to resolve is relatable to people interested in discussions about careers, love, relationships, marriage, and family.

Perhaps why Harold Pinter’s Betrayal was adapted to various theaters globally. Repertory Philippines’ version through Lirio is a noteworthy accomplishment for the Filipino audience. The Carlos P. Romulo (CPR) Auditorium with 450 seats is befitting for the play for its intimate size as well as the theme of exploring human civility; as Carlos P. Romulo was known as the first Filipino president of the United Nations General Assembly. Romulo wrote bout human civility through his diplomatic career, while Betrayal demonstrated human civility and its challenges in a scenario where many can encounter: love, relationship, and family. It was simple with minimal characters and stage decoration.


Review by Abigail Ko