Review: Betrayal (Raven Theatre)

| November 10, 2016

Abigail Boucher stars in Betrayal, Raven Theatre (photos Dean La Prairie)           


Written by Harold Pinter 
Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru Dec 17  |  tix: $22-$46  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Intimate and exciting


Sam Guinan-Nyhart and Abigail Boucher in Betrayal, Raven Theatre

Raven Theatre presents

Review by Lauren Whalen

The PR spin on Raven Theatre’s production of Betrayal is telling the story from the woman’s perspective. At first I wasn’t sure what this meant (was Harold Pinter’s classic script being rewritten and repurposed), but director Lauren Shouse clarifies: since its world premiere, the best-known productions of Betrayal have been directed by men. Now, Shouse and her mostly-female creative team seek to give the woman, Emma, her due. I hadn’t seen Betrayal since college – the last Chicago production was nearly a decade ago – but I found Shouse’s mission statement a respectful, successful one. This Betrayal is intelligent, witty and thought-provoking, with a bravura lead performance from Raven Theatre veteran Abigail Boucher.

Sam Guinan-Nyhart and Abigail Boucher in Betrayal at Raven TheatreBetrayal begins with Emma (Boucher) meeting Jerry (Sam Guinan-Nyhart) for a drink. The two haven’t seen each other in years, though Jerry was once the best friend of Emma’s husband Robert (Keith Neagle). Emma reveals that she and Robert are separating, and she still has feelings for Jerry, with whom she had a nine-year affair. From there, the play hops around in time, revealing the consequences of this affair (like Emma, Jerry is also married with children). Eventually, the two purchase a flat for their afternoon assignations, but soon the relationship progresses beyond sunshine and roses and becomes increasingly complex. What if the respective spouses find out? What if the ramifications are even more long-term?

Raven Theatre often goes old-school with its productions, such as last year’s A Loss of Roses by Tennessee Williams, also featuring Boucher. Betrayal isn’t a new play, yet still feels modern and relevant. People have been having affairs since the beginning of time, and will continue to do so until the apocalypse. Non-monogamy is more on the table now than it was thirty years ago, but that also requires consent and communication from all parties. If you’re deliberately keeping someone in the dark, the relationship isn’t non-monogamous, it’s an affair. Even cheating isn’t cut-and-dried, though, and Pinter deftly illustrates the gray areas, giving both Emma and Jerry believable arcs and flaws. Robert is a bit less well-rounded: his anger and suspicion in most scenes are disappointingly one-note. I blame this on a combination of Pinter’s writing, Shouse’s direction and Neagle’s performance (the latter comes off less experienced than the other two actors).

Abigail Boucher and Sam Guinan-Nyhart in Betrayal, Raven Theatre Keith Neagle stars in Betrayal, Raven TheatreAbigail Boucher and Sam Guinan-Nyhart star in Betrayal at Raven Theatre Betrayal review, Raven Theatre ChicagoKeith Neagle, Richard Cotovsky and Sam Guinan-Nyhart in Betrayal, Raven Theatre

This Betrayal is well worth watching for Emma and Jerry’s nuanced and completely believable relationship. There’s sexual attraction, sure, but also genuine love – both in and out of the affair’s boundaries. Emma and Jerry are human beings who have made a choice they perhaps shouldn’t have. Shouse guides the action with a sure hand and a pacing that’s quick and dirty, but not frenetic. Boucher’s Emma is intelligent and thoughtful, driven by her passions yet also very aware of her failings. As Jerry, Guinan-Nyhart is forever conflicted, equal parts empathetic and frustrating.

Betrayal explores an affair from all angles: primal, emotional and intellectual. A Last Five Years of infidelity, Betrayal gives both woman and man the respect they deserve, but never lionizes their less-than-perfect decisions. Pinter’s play shows how close we all are to the edge at any given moment, and Shouse’s direction, along with a terrific cast, emphasizes that in the matters of love, everyone is somewhat at fault.

Rating: ★★★½

Betrayal continues through December 17th at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map), with performances Thursdays & Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays 3:30pm & 8pm, Sundays 3:30pm.  Tickets are $22-$46, and are available by phone (773-338-2177) or online through (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: 75 minutes, no intermission)

Abigail Boucher and Keith Neagle in Betrayal, Raven Theatre

Photos by Dean La Prairie 




Abigail Boucher (Emma), Keith Neagle (Robert), Sam Guinan-Nyhart (Jerry), Richard Cotovsky (Waiter)

Understudies: Peter Ash (Jerry/Robert/Waiter), Katherine Bourne (Emma)

behind the scenes

Lauren Shouse (director), Lauren Nigri (set design), Becca Jeffords (lighting design), Stephanie Cluggish (costume design), Kevin O’Donnell (sound design), Clara Wendland, Mary O’Dowd (properties design), Eileen Rozycki (scenic artist), Shannon Golden (stage manager), AJ Roy (asst. director), Leni Morales (asst. stage manager), Diane D. Fairchild, Marissa Geocaris (master electricians), Aram Monisoff (dialect coach), Dean La Prairie (photography)

Abigail Boucher and Sam Guinan-Nyhart in Betrayal at Raven TheatreSam Guinan-Nyhart and Keith Neagle in Betrayal, Raven Theatre


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Category: 2016 Reviews, Harold Pinter, Lauren Emily Whalen, Raven Theatre, Video, YouTube

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