Thursday, August 15, 2019

Betrayal Broadway (2019)

>>>>>>>>>>> This is your spoiler warning. Do not read this post if you don't want to know what happens in Broadway Betrayal. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< 

August 14, 2019:

Welcome to Broadway! I scoped out the Jacobs Theatre when I arrived in NYC yesterday and there was still a lot of working being done, so to see it transformed into Betrayal literally overnight is something magical. I'm probably in the minority of people who also saw Tom Hiddleston's first New York performance when he performed in Cymbeline with Cheek By Jowl at BAM in 2007. The play that ultimately earned him an Olivier Award.  For the record, even twelve years ago Tom Hiddleston was already Tom Hiddleston on stage.  And instead of diminishing, the radiating sense of power you feel when he's on stage has only gotten more profound. So, it was a unique kind of pleasure to be able to watch Tom, along with Zawe Ashton, Charlie Cox, and Eddie Arnold - fulfill the dream of performing on Broadway. 

Because Mr. Hiddleston can describe Betrayal probably more eloquently than even Harold Pinter himself I will let him provide the synopsis (courtesy of SiriusXM).

"It's a three-hander: Robert, Emma, and Jerry. Robert and Emma are married, husband and wife. Robert and Jerry are old, best friends. Jerry was best man at Robert and Emma's wedding. And Emma and Jerry have been having an affair. It's called Betrayal. It's about these three complex relationships: the marriage, the friendship, the romance. Those three relationships are dependent on each other. When one of those relationships breaks down so does the other two. I think we're the first company to stage it this way in that all these actors are on stage for the duration of the piece. There are a lot of scenes between two people but having the presence of the third character physically in the space shows you that actually that character's in the mind of both people all the time - the inner affair or inner Betrayal of any kind you carry that third object in your mind. You're not truly free." 

When I first read the play, I didn't find any of the characters to be particularly sympathetic. Maybe it's an age thing. Maybe it's a cultural thing. I joked with a friend that the play is really just three a**holes trying to figure out how to out a**hole each other. That's the problem with stories being told in reverse - you see the characters as what they are now without any context.

Betrayal Broadway offers a much more emotional telling of the Pinter classic. Tom often refers to a collective connection that audiences will make during a play. You will feel that here. 

Robert (Tom) is an easy man to dislike. Especially since the first time we hear his voice he's casually chatting about slapping his wife around just so he can scratch that old "itch". In his first few scenes he comes across as brutish. A brute with smug eyebrows. Yes, his eyebrows are smug. But your opinion of him will change drastically once you reach Scene 5 and beyond. Watching this man - who up until this point has shown no redeemable qualities - fight a losing battle with his emotions as his wife finally reveals the details of her affair with his best friend. Or as tears fall into his plate as he attacks his melone while probably wishing that melone was a certain person's face instead. We're not even going to talk about Scene 8 when he's rotates around the stage cradling his young daughter while wife is spending quality time with her lover. You're going to feel some things in your feeling places! Like many of the characters Tom has played, you will find that his cruelty is born out of pain. 

I think the infamous Pinter pauses and silences are best used in Scene 5. When Robert asks Emma whether or not he's the father of his own child is I don't care how long it takes:  the. audience. will. wait. for. that. answer! 

In his interview with, Tom also described Betrayal as a battle "between two men over one woman". I did not get that feeling from the play at all. It was a battle for sure. But I don't think Emma (Zawe) was their prize. Both men seemed to value their friendship with each other much more than their romantic relationship with Emma. Robert (Tom) even admits during that he likes Jerry (Charlie) more than Emma. Jerry doesn't seem too broken up about Emma ending their affair but Jerry's complete indignation over not knowing that Robert knew is pure comedy. Because somehow Robert keeping that secret is worse than Jerry sleeping with his wife for almost a decade? It also explains why Robert would continue to be friends with Jerry. That was always my question going into it. If I found out my friend was messing around with my significant other I'm cancelling more than the weekly squash match! Could it simply be that Robert loved his friend more than he loved his wife? There's also the fact that his friend makes him a lot of money.


(photo by Marc Brenner from Betrayal Pinter. I will update this post when Betrayal Broadway photos are released) 

I didn't really on focus on fashion in my Betrayal-Pinter write up. It's hard to know how clothing can play a part in a story without seeing it. Obviously Tom is wearing his own clothes so it should be simple but... now that I've seen the play I do feel like there is a deliberateness in how each of the characters is presented. None of these characters are static. They move on the stage in a choreographed dance, even when in the background. Jackets on. Jackets off. Shirts on. Shirts off...almost. Sorry to disappoint. 

Robert (Tom) is dressed very sharply. He's got on a designer suit, a luxury sweater, dress shoes etc. It's his power suit. Tom's character holds the most power in this play. He has power over Jerry at work. He has the power of knowledge because he knows of the affair and makes Zawe confess to it. He has power over Jerry because he hides the fact that he knows of the affair. He even has power over Emma's new lover, (the often referred to but never seen) Casey. Interestingly, Robert's most vulnerable moments (lunch with Jerry, confronting Emma) happen when he doesn't have his suit jacket on. His suit becomes his armour. 

Emma (Zawe) and her feet have been keeping me awake for six months. For real. During the London production I was so curious as to why Zawe performed barefoot. And none of the interviewers felt the need to ask about it. But then again I didn't ask either. There's something very intimate about feet right? There's an argument between Emma and Jerry (Scene Six) where she shouts that all she does is cook and clean. And then it hit me. Emma is barefoot and pregnant. Barefoot - literally. And at times pregnant - literally. 
Her clothes even seem more '70's inspired. After reading her book, Zawe seems like the type who would honor the time-period even if it isn't explicitly mentioned in this current production. Betrayal was written in the 1970's when women were still expected to stay home and raise babies rather. Emma does start working at a Gallery in the beginning of the play and that ultimately ends her relationship with Jerry. Her not being free in the afternoons and all. 

Jerry (Charlie) looks like he's been having a bad day. Robert even comments at one point that his friend is looking "rough". Out of all of the three, Jerry is the one with the least power. He has very little control over anything that happens in the story. The two other characters keep secrets from him for years. Robert sets the terms for the friendship. Emma sets the terms for their relationship. The man Jerry discovered and mentored becomes Emma new lover. Even Jerry's posture is that of a man who's been defeated. During their background time Robert and Emma are usually doing something active - walking around, having a picnic etc. Meanwhile you're more likely to find Jerry slouched down in his time out chair. 


Here's a look at the Broadway Playbill for Betrayal. Eventually (post likely after Opening Night) there will be Betrayal Broadway related merchandise available on from the Playbill Store. This usually includes Opening Night Playbills, Autographed items, and other souvenirs so keep an eye out. 


There are still plenty of tickets left. Actually way more than I expected there to be but the Jacobs Theatre is massive and they are performing for 4 months. Telecharge has released loads of $25 tickets. Some of those tickets are in high-quality areas. You could have had my seat in the third row for $25 - I paid significantly more than that during the general sale. So, there's that. Betrayal is running until December 8, 2018!

This review is sponsored by real life heart-eye emoji faces. 

PS: Charlie and I are filming a documentary. It's called How to Turn A Tom Hiddleston Fan Into A Charlie Cox Stan: Betrayal 2.0. Coming soon to Tribeca. I smell Oscar Buzz. joking. joking. I stan them both. Go see the play and you will stan them all. Someone recorded this and turned it into a sweet gif. 

Shout out to my human seeing eye guide dog, hype (wo)man, and wingman Victoria for taking all the pictures. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Betrayal Press/Rehearsals - Sea Wall/ A Life Press Night (2019)

August 8-13, 2019: 

***this post is being updated*** 

August 8, 2019:

With previews less than one week away Charlie Cox, Zawe Ashton, and Tom Hiddleston were finally reunited in New York City for Day 1 of Betrayal Broadway rehearsals and press. I guess they don't need much rehearsal time since they've already spent 12 weeks performing the play in London... but still I expected this to happen sooner. They posed on the Mezzanine of the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre which will serve as their new home until December. I will update articles/videos from the press junket as they become available. Fan favorite journalists Josh Horowitz and Jenelle Riley were also there and I can't wait to see what they have prepared for us.

Here's a nice interview from Broadway World. "I love this play. I read it when I was a student. I think it's one of the great plays about relationships and intimacy. It's a play about trust. It's a play about knowledge. And that through knowledge you can get power. And who holds power in the end. In Pinter's world - life is a battle, and often between men. In this case between two men over one woman. I think there are some very deep, relatable themes about the experience of being alive that he really gets into. We'd done 109 performances already in London and we've got 150-odd coming up on Broadway... it feels new, it feels fresh every night. And partly that's I think to do with the audience because here we are in a live theatre. And their attentiveness - the capacity of each audience to connect with the piece. We've all been in relationships. We've all been in relationships that worked. We've all been in relationships that haven't worked. And I think that's why the play will never get old." 

Tom continues to defy all laws of nature by looking refreshed and well-rested even after just arriving back in NYC last night/this morning. I'm still waiting for someone to reveal his jet-lag secret.

As I predicted back in July, the Betrayal Trio all showed up en masse for Opening Night of Sea Wall/ A Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge. Jake co-starred with Zawe Ashton in Velvet Buzzsaw and Tom was Tom's son in The Hollow Crown series. Both plays also shared the same publicity team - although they seem to be handling publicity very differently for each show. 

Sea Wall / A Life is a two-part monologue. In Jake's words "it's a show about love and family and faith." You can order tickets here

One of the themes for Sea Wall / A Life has been portraits. Charlie, Zawe, and Tom can now add their faces to the portrait wall. 

August 9: 

Tom Hiddleston shared a teaser trailer for Betrayal Broadway. Unlike the Betrayal Pinter video - all three cast members are featured. In the video, Tom recites several of Harold Pinter's most famous quotes. 

"There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers. Our beginnings never know our ends."

The video was directed and produced by the same team of Christopher McGill and Dusthouse. You can read the interview we did back in November here.

August 10: 

Betrayal Broadway shared some behind-the-scenes pictures from rehearsals. With rehearsals only six days before the previews it was also tech week. 

August 11: 

Photographer Simon Annand shared a pictures of Tom Hiddleston in costume. It looks they all characters will be wearing the same outfits as they did for Betrayal Pinter

Simon is a poignant choice to photograph Tom for his Broadway debut. Simon was also on hand when Tom made his professional theatre debut in The Changeling with Cheek By Jowl. He photographed Tom after Dramatic Need - the place where Tom, Charlie, and Zawe 
worked together for the first time. And he photographed Tom during Coriolanus rehearsals. 


It's the return of the OG Aquatalia boots! They made a brief appearance at Tokyo Comic Con last November/December but other than that Tom hasn't been seen wearing this brand since 2017. Tom actually wore these shoes (the brand at least because he's gone through at least 4 different pairs) for the very first time in New York City so it was a poignant homecoming! 

Tom also dug into his closet to bring back another iconic piece, the Ralph Lauren suit he wore to Wimbledon in 2018. 


Sea Wall / A Life

Saturday, July 20, 2019

San Diego Comic Con: LOKI

July 20, 2019:

Six years ago to the day, Tom Hiddleston rocked Hall H to its core with a surprise appearance. Today, he proved that Loki isn't the only God of Mischief. Tom - and a whole slew of Marvel actors - crashed the Marvel Presentation to help unveil Marvel's Phase 4 and Disney+ lineup. 

Tom will be a busy man. It was revealed that he will be a part of two separate shows for the new Disney+ streaming series. 

Up first is the Loki series - appropriately named LOKI. It will debut in Spring, 2021 exclusively on Disney+. The series will follow Loki after the events of Endgame. Quick Endgame refresher: The Avengers (or what's left of them at least) go back in time to the Battle of New York. Loki ends up escaping with the Tessaract. This essentially erases the storylines of The Dark WorldRagnarok, and Infinity War where Loki is ultimately redeemed. 

Tom on how the events of Avengers: Endgame will effect his character: You guys saw Avengers, right? So, he's still that guy. And just about that last thing that happened to him was he got Hulk Smashed. So, there's a lot of psychological evolution that is still yet to happen... it is one of the most exciting, creative opportunities I think I have ever come across. This is new territory. A new world. New challenges. I cannot wait to get started. 

And don't he look excited! 

It will also announced that Disney+ is bringing their first animated feature to the MCU, WHAT IF...? Tom Hiddleston will be among the many MCU actors lending their voices to the series scheduled to air in Summer 2021. 

Seeing Tom's OG 2010 Loki headshot on a Marvel screen in 2019 will make you feel things in your feeling places. 

Taika Waititi, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Natalie Portman were there to represent the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder film. Natalie hasn't been a part of the Thor series since 2013 so it will be interesting to see how they make up for lost time. Tom wasn't listed in the characters but you never know where Loki may pop up. 

Hype Man Tom was in fine form too. He was the first to greet the newest member of the MCU, Mahershala Ali aka Blade. And sported a promo hat for the Black Widow film. 


One final wave to the crowd. 

On Sunday, Tom shared his excitement on Instagram: Here’s the new Loki logo... and here’s how excited I am to get started.



Tom Hiddleston gave his 2017 SDCC look an upgrade.

I know they look very similar but he is wearing a completely different outfit. Tom swapped out his Burberry for John Smedley ($270), his jbrand for jbrandier ($245), and his Aquatalia for Kurt Geiger London ($155). That beard and those curls: Priceless.



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