Friday, June 8, 2018


The 6th Act producing at Theatre 68 in North Hollywood creates unique side by side comparisons of the passions that make Live Theatre special.  This ambitious production pits  Shakespeare's OTHELLO back to back with modern playwright, Harold Pinter with his 1978 one act, BETRAYAL

We begin with Pinter. Long pauses in spare and cutting dialogue reflect the playwright's style that brought him to fame in the middle of the last century.  It's 1977. The oozing discomfort in the first scene with Emma (Liza Seneca ) and Jerry (Adam J. Smith) haltingly  discussing their seven year affair that they had carried on behind their respective spouses backs from 1968 to 1975.  We then travel backwards in time to experience their situation in reverse.  Fine performances on Gary Lee Reed's simple set show the mostly subtle  internal workings of each of Pinter's characters. As Emma's husband Robert (William DeMerrit) may take his English accent a bit over the top, but the over all pace and performances work. The irony that Pinter is known for emerges in its own sometimes painfully tedious pace. 

Liza Seneca and William DeMeritt
Photo credit Karianne Flaathen
Tough and very British.  This tangled web comes undone. 

The challenge of Liza Seneca's adaptation of Shakespeare's OTHELLO to mimic Pinter's BETRAYAL shows a loving respect for the Bard's story, again told from back to front.  We meet the unhappy players as we find them at the end of the play, all dead. As Othello, DeMeritt is foaming with distrust and jealousy stirred and stirred again by Iago (Smith) who, himself has begun his scheme for revenge feeling betrayed by Othello when he was passed over for a high ranking position that was awarded to Michael Cassio. Cassio (Luke McClure who also doubles effectively as Iago's wife, Emilia) falls victim to the plot that riles 'the green eyed monster' in the Moor's soul.    Iago's handiwork begets a double betrayal: one imagined in the mind of the Moor and one quite genuine as he is betrayed with malice by Iago. 
William DeMeritt and Liza Seneca
Photo credit Karianne Flaathen

The scholarship presented by Ms Seneca and appropriate direction by Elizabeth Swain gives pause to consider what the living theatre can and must do. By reflecting on Shakespeare and familiar themes of a raging jealous Othello and then the examination of Harold Pinter's subtle and internal struggles of slightly smarmy and all together guilty characters provide dramatic insights into the ethics of our modern lives.  Who tells the truth? Who's trapped in deception? How may we survive the tangled webs in which we find ourselves ensnared? Who has not felt a twinge of jealousy or the angst of holding back a secret? The Sixth Act's Evening of Betrayal holds moments of humor and clarity in a personal way that can only be experienced on a stage with the living theatre unfolding before us.
The 6th Act at Theatre 68
Betrayal  by Harold Pinter 
Othello (abbreviated) by William Shakespeare
Through June 24, 2018
Theatre 68
5112 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays at 8:00PM  Sundays at 2:00PM.  
Tickets are $25.00
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