A sharp look into the nature of romantic relationships, Betrayal starts in 1977 when two long time lovers meet after the woman’s marriage dissolves and then backtracks all the way to 1968 when the affair first began. As the years spin backwards, a complex web of secrets about the trio emerges and calls into question the nature of their intimacy – as friends, as partners, as spouses. A play about love, lust and time, Betrayal poetically explores the rift between memory and reality. The original draft was entitled Torcello.
Browse productions of Betrayal in the database
Date of Composition: 3 November 1977 - 31 December 1977 Confidence Level
In Betrayal (1978), Jerry takes off on his own to read Yeats on the island of Torcello after having discovered his wife's affair with his best friend.
Pinter lived here with Antonia Fraser from 1977 until his death. From April 1979, he had a studio for his writing at the bottom of their garden, on Aubrey Road.
Emma and Jerry have a flat in Kilburn in Betrayal (1978). It is named as being no. 31 Wessex Grove, up Kinsale Drive, but neither of these streets exist or existed.
Robert and Emma holiday in Venice in Betrayal (1978). Emma's affair with her husband's friend Jerry is revealed here. In The Homecoming (1965) we learn that Teddy and Ruth have visited Venice before turning up at his family's house in London.
Emma 38 at the beginning of the play, and her age changes as the time period moves more or less backward from 1977 to 1968
Jerry is 40 at the beginning of the play, and his age changes as the time period moves more or less backward from 1977 to 1968.
External Link: https://www.dramaonlinelibrary.com/plays/betrayal-iid-134555
Type: Summary Information
A brief introduction to the play by William McEvoy. Contains embedded links to manuscript drafts held in the British Library.
Type: Social media
External Link: https://soundcloud.com/rsl/harold-pinter-and-d-j-enright
A Soundcloud recording of Harold Pinter reading from two of his plays on the occasion of his being awarded the Companion of Honour by the Royal Society of Literature in 1998. Pinter's section begins at the 27:29 mark. He reads from Betrayal 28:00 to 36:06 and The Caretaker 36:07 to 41:00.
William Baker, A Harold Pinter Chronology (London: Palgrave, 2013)
Baker gives dates for the composition of and completion of the draft of Torcello (Betrayal) (pp. 77-8)
Antonia Fraser, Must You Go?: My Life With Harold Pinter (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010)
Fraser recalls the composition of Betrayal (pp. 85-6.)
The summary of the play is taken and adapted from the site, a resource for theatre artists [accessed 3 April 2018].
Antonia Fraser and Michael Billington in Conversation, British Library Knowledge Centre, 4 March 2019
At this event, Antonia Frasier recollected that Betrayal was first drafted during the couple's stay in the Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, a rare instance of the two writers working side-by-side in the same room.