Burlington brothers and their “buds” working together on a Fringe Festival theatrical production – Harold Pinter’s Betrayal.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 12, 2012   This is one of those “local boy does good” stories – except that the story is about two brothers and one of their best friends who lived just up the street – still does.  The three of them, along with a fourth person – a woman, are involved in the production of Harold Pinter’s major dramatic work play Betrayal, which involved just two men and a woman who all betrayed each other.  The play itself  is complex,  but the Burlington group involved in the production of the Pinter play are not in the least complex.

They are an energetic serious bunch of young people who are either out of university or close to graduation and doing something they all want to do.

Mischa Aravena is the actor and producer, his brother Mel is the producer of the play.  Friend Tom Hart is the assistant director while Jeanette Hicks is the set designer.  Jeanette is a professional artists and has worked on a number of films, a Toronto Fringe show.  She has exhibited her work at the Art Gallery of Ontario Gift Store.

The play is part of Hamilton’s Fringe Festival – with productions talking place July 21 at 9:45; July 22 at 6:15; July 23 at 9:30; July 25 at 6:30; July 26 at 6:00; July 28at 2:30 and July 29 at 6:00.  Arrive on time – no entry no matter who you are, once the play has begin. All Betrayal shows are at the Citadel Studio Theatre in Hamilton.  The Studio Theatre is built every year specifically for the Fringe event.   The tickets are very modestly priced at $9 each.  The Fringe is there to give young actors and set design people an opportunity to gain some experience and public exposure.  A number of Fringe productions have gone on to New York and then into film production.

The Aravena brothers, Mel out front in the centre with Mischa peeking out at the top,  with Tom Hart giving advice on where the set piece should be placed.

The Aravena brothers tried to get into the Toronto Fringe Festival where the approach is to take all the entries that come in and draw names out of a hat.  They didn’t make the draw, but they were well enough prepared to get their application into the Hamilton people, where they were selected on merit.

Now to get the lines learned, the feel of the way they want to do the play and the set painted and ready for placement on the stage.

Mischa is the more intense of the two brothers; he will play one of the three characters in the production.  His brother Mel is the director and has basically worked with Mischa on most of what he has done on stage.

The play was inspired by Pinter’s clandestine extramarital affair with BBC Television presenter Joan Bakewell, which occurred for seven years, from 1962 to 1969,. The plot of Betrayal exposes different permutations of betrayal and kinds of betrayals occurring over a period of nine years, relating to a seven-year affair involving a married couple, Emma and Robert, and Robert’s “close friend” Jerry, who is also married, to a woman named Judith.

Jeanette Hicks: set designer.   That apron is worn when she paints, she doesn’t cook or feed the others.

For five years Jerry and Emma carry on their affair without Robert’s knowledge, both cuckolding Robert and betraying Judith, 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 with 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.

Pinter’s articular usage of reverse chronology in structuring the plot is innovative: the first scene takes place after the affair has ended, in 1977; the final scene ends when the affair begins, in 1968; and, in between 1977 and 1968, scenes in two pivotal years (1977 and 1973) move forward chronologically.  As Roger Ebert observed, in his review of the 1983 film, based on Pinter’s own screenplay, “The ‘Betrayal’ structure strips away all artifice. It shows, heartlessly, that the very capacity for love itself is sometimes based on betraying not only other loved ones, but even ourselves.”

Pinter was one of the “angry young men in the 70’s and had a significant impact on dramatic theatre both in London and New York.  For a young actor embarking on a career on the stage, which tends to include a lot of taxi driving or waiting on tables, this play is a courageous step.

This year’s Hamilton Fringe Festival will be at four venues in Downtown Hamilton for eleven days between July 19 and 29, 2012.  The full listing of productions is here. This year is the 9th Fringe Festival in Hamilton.

Online Tickets for the 2012 Hamilton Fringe are now on sale!  Click here for box office.    50% of all tickets are held to be sold at the door – they go on sale one hour before the show!  In order to access any fringe venue, you must be wearing a “fringe backer button” – (a one time $4 cost).



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