One of the coolest things in life is to go somewhere and be surprised by what you find.
That’s what happened at opening night at Soulstice Theatre’s production of "Betrayal" Friday night.
This little shoestring company which has delivered unevenly in past seasons delivered an astoundingly and surprisingly powerful version of one of the great plays of the 20th century.
"Betrayal" was written by Harold Pinter, one of the angry young men of the world of theater, and it is a towering drama based on his own extra-marital affair. It is a scathing indictment of the lies we all tell, to those we love and to ourselves and demands subtlety and nuance to come alive on stage.
A trio of actors delivered all that and more opening night. These are complex characters Pinter has created and they fall flat if not given room for that complexity by the actors.
Under the direction of Matthew Michaelis, this play moves from the end of the story to the beginning with nary a misstep.
The story is of Robert, whose wife, Emma, has an seven-year affair with Jerry, who is Robert’s best friend and who was the best man t their wedding. This might have been the ho-hum "him, him and her" love triangle story. But it is so much more than that.
This play is about the deceits, big and small, that can fill a life and drive you off track. It’s about people who get hurt, people who do the hurting and how each of them copes with the fallout.
Joe Krapf, who plays the buttoned-up Robert and Andrew Riebau, who plays the Scotch-fueled Jerry, absolutely sparkle. Krapf is the one who carries his cuckold with a stiff upper lip while Riebau manages to ignore the chasm and remain best friends with Robert.
Amy Hansmann is a gigantic surprise as Emma. She smolders on stage. She is sexy, uncertain, lonely, deceitful, passionate and afraid.
She loves her family and loves the flat she and Jerry have rented. She wants the flat to become a home, something more than a bedded cloister for afternoon sexual romps with Jerry. She cooks stews and buys a tablecloth in Venice, all to create what is her great illusion – a second home to share with her lover.
The opening scene of the play takes place two years after Jerry and Emma have broken up. So we all know how this drama ends.
But what makes this such a great play is that it proves, again, that it is the journey that is the really fascinating part of life.
There were fewer than a dozen people in the audience opening night. That’s a shame. This is a play that deserves a big crowd.
For more information, visit soulsticetheatre.org.
Cast: Amy Hansmann, Andrew Riebau, Joe Krapf. Director: Matthew Michaelis. Stage manager: Josh Perkins. Costumes: Char Manny.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Dave Begel
Published Sept. 21, 2014
"The Good Father," which opened over the weekend at the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and runs through Oct. 12, was the first play by Irish playwright Christian O'Reilly, and it has rarely been produced in this country. But it's a first rate story about a young couple and their year-long journey that carries them from the ultimate casual to the significantly meaningful.
Published Sept. 20, 2014
In its recent past, the Skylight has moved almost exclusively into the world of musical theater, consistently producing stellar productions of musicals usually familiar to an audience. Friday night's performance of "Cinderella" was a clear indication that under the artistic direction of Viswa Subbaraman, opera is back. Thank God!
Published Sept. 18, 2014
The Dale Gutzman version of "Cabaret," which opened Wednesday night and runs through Sept. 28, is a dark retelling of a story that mixed sex, violence, longing and fear into two and half hours of mesmerizing theater. The menace of the play at Off the Wall Theatre is as intimate as any I have seen before.
Published Sept. 18, 2014
How many teams have players in their locker rooms who are in the kind of trouble currently dogging the NFL and that the teams are hiding with fingers crossed that they don't lose a player to suspension?
Published Sept. 18, 2014
Common Ground has an initiative called "Fair Play" that's designed to spark a significant improvement in school and public recreational facilities in Milwaukee County. It's a worthy initiative for the increasingly influential grassroots lobbying organization. But Dave Begel says it's blackmail.
Published Sept. 16, 2014
This has been a difficult week for the National Football League, the most popular sport in the country, by far. And the affairs of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Roger Goodell have raised a series of questions and which may be difficult to answer, but which deserve our best try at answers.
Published Sept. 15, 2014
Deborah Staples is an actor and an associate artist at the Milwaukee Rep. She is at the absolute top of her game and delivers memorable performances wherever she appears. It would seem that with her career and her family, there would be no room left. However, she has begun to scale a new mountain in her life as she steps behind the footlights to direct her first play.
Published Sept. 14, 2014
Sometimes stepping off the beaten path, or outside of the mainstream, can be fraught with peril but on occasion it can turn into a wonderful surprise and you pat yourself on the back for taking the big step. Such was my reaction after stepping into the deliciously tiny space of Theatre Unchained in order to see the production of "The Addams Family Musical."
Published Sept. 13, 2014
We may not have movie stars like California, oranges like Florida or corn like Iowa, but Wisconsin has a long list of excellent stuff we've given to the rest of the world. Here are the top 13 things that carry the "Made in Wisconsin" tag.
Published Sept. 12, 2014
The little Alchemist Theatre space is one of the real jewels in this city, and it comes alive in an amazing fashion with "Destiny, Deviltry & Dentistry," a hilarious collection of sketches running through Sept. 20.