Interview: Harold Pinter’s award winning, Betrayal, a tale of illicit liaisons, on stage in Cape Town 2022, presented by 2Sugars Productions

Betrayal by Harold Pinter- presented by 2Sugars Productions

Where: Artscape Arena, Cape Town
When: October 21-29, 2022 (6pm and 2pm shows)
Director: Chris Weare
Cast: Marlisa Doubell, Pierre Malherbe and Matt Newman
Set design: Patrick Curtis
Lighting design: Alfred Rietmann
Tickets: Computicket – note Early Bird deal – available until September 30, 2022
Booking link:
Running time: 90 mins
Age advisory: PG 12.
Please Note: No latecomers will be allowed entrance after the show has started

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Thrilling news is that Betrayal – Harold Pinter’s award winning play- is being staged in Cape Town at the Artscape Arena- October 2022 (October 21-29). The staging follows umpteen postponements, due to the pandemic. The production company is 2Sugars Productions (formerly Sugar-daddy) and is headed up by Marlisa Doubell and Lizanne Peters. Doubell relocated to London, early in the pandemic, for family reasons but she remains committed to staging plays of excellence for the South African stage. The acquiring of the rights to stage Betrayal was sealed and casting and creative choices had been made. Chris Weare was on board to direct and then boom, we were slammed by Covid and lockdowns, which kept on being extended. With seating, back to full capacity, and the mask mandate removed, Betrayal was given the green light for the Artscape season. It is a short run, so do not miss out seeing this critically-acclaimed drama by Nobel Prize laureate Harold Pinter and which Chris Weare tags as an “intriguing comedy of menace”.

Revival in 2019 in London and New York

The play was staged in 1978, to rapturous acclaim. It won an Olivier Award in 1979 for Best New Play in the West End. In 2019, yes the year before the pandemic, the play sparked commercial and critical acclaim when it was revived on London’s West End and in New York, on Broadway. That revival led to multiple international awards in 2020 and 2021, including the 2021 Tony Award for best revival of a play. That is a biggie. During lockdown, I was watching the awards being streamed and thinking – ‘soon, soon- we will see this play in Cape Town.’ I had long chats with Doubell, as each run was pushed back because of our lockdowns. That gave the team time to refine the production so the October 2022 season is the culmination of tremendous work and resilience.

Betrayal for Cape Town 2022

Doubell is delighted that the production is finally happening. She has had her sights on staging the play for a long time. Many people are not aware what is involved in securing rights for contemporary classics like Betrayal. It is not only the rights that need to be paid per performance (substantial) but getting permission to stage plays and that is not granted to every theatre company. According to 2Sugars Productions, this is “only the third time since the 1980s that the rights have been granted by the Pinter estate, exclusively for Cape Town for a limited run only.” In 2019, people were clamouring for tickets in New York and London and it is amazing that we can see it on stage in Cape Town, with a superb cast and creative team. Imagine what one would pay for a ticket in London or New York.  Do not tarry. The Artscape Arena has seating capacity for 139. The intimacy of the venue is perfect for this intensely intimate and innovative play in terms of its narrative – beginning at the end and tracing back to the start of the ‘betrayal’.

About the play

There is a married couple: Emma (Marlisa Doubell) and Robert (Matt Newman). Emma has an affair with Jerry (Pierre Malherbe) who is a close/good friend of her husband – Robert. For five years, the affair is on the boil and Robert is in the dark and does not know. Emma subsequently confesses her infidelity to Robert and doesn’t tell Jerry (who is also married – to Judith). That is another betrayal. Go and see it to see, how Pinter excavates through the layers of betrayal – on many levels. As Doubell puts it: “The play features Pinter’s characteristically economical dialogue, the characters’ hidden emotions, veiled motivations, their self-absorbed competitive one-upmanship, face-saving, dishonesty and self-deceptions.”

Withholding secrets – exacerbating betrayals and truths

Marlisa Doubell says she has longed to produce this classic for years. Doubell says: ”It’s an absolute masterpiece, in that it lends itself to a myriad of interpretations both in terms of the characters personal motivations and the plot. All three characters hold secrets from one another, at some stage in the play. In a sense they all lie to each other and to themselves and therein lies the title of the play, Betrayal. It’s hard to comprehend that Pinter based this play on his own real life experiences, in his own marriage. The play is set in London in the 1970s. We’re holding true to the period. Many people openly admit to having had to read it or watch it more than once in order to truly grasp the plot because one is always questioning what is true. Another good reason to concentrate during the performance is because the story is told backwards, as in reverse chronology. “

“I have known Chris for over a decade, he is undeniably a master in his field and a role model to many, including me. When we first started in 2010, he supported our theatre company by allowing us to rent the Intimate at a fair rate that actually made independent theatre feasible. Chris went on to direct two production for us to great acclaim. Athol Fugard’s Hello & Goodbye and David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Pierre Malherbe played the lead in the Mamet play in 2013 and he totally nailed his misogynistic character. Pierre now takes the opportunity to play the opposite of that, he’s far more refined and loveable as Jerry. Matt Newman is new to our theatre company and he plays Robert, Emma’s stoic husband. We are incredibly excited to bring this delicious play to Cape Town and can’t wait for you to all see it.”

A drama which is an intriguing comedy of menace

I asked award-winning director Professor Chris Weare for insights into the staging for Cape Town 2022 and whether the setting or time frame has been shifted. Weare received a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Lifetime Achievement, in 2012 for his work in the South African performing arts industry. Weare says: “Pinter writes about his fascination – he is suspicious of language. Betrayal explores layers of deception. Essentially it is about human relationships and so there is no reason to take the story out of its specific context: Two graduates from Oxford and Cambridge living and working in London. Pinter’s unconventional structure in his story telling-s tarting at the end of the illicit affair and moving in chronological reverse order to its beginning- makes it an intriguing comedy of menace. The play is a celebration of the theatre- of live performance. An audience’s ‘refreshment’ is the telling of a story by live actors through nine scenes in one single space representing seven different locations. The play starts in 1977 and ends at the beginning of the affair in 1968. Selective British music hits help define the years and the seasons within those years.”

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The role of Emma will be played by Marlisa Doubell, who returns to the Artscape Arena after her last appearance there as Barb, the lead in Blueberry Toast by Mary Laws (2019). Theatre credits include activist Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, Eugene O’Neil’s Thirst (2017 adaption by Doubell), and Athol Fugard’s Hello & Goodbye. Film/TV credits include Blood & Water (Netflix), Fried Barry (Indie Film), and American Monster (Amazon).

Pierre Malherbe will play Jerry. Theatre credits include Apple Face (2019), his own production, which he wrote and played in, the Fugard Theatre production of Shakespeare in Love by Lee Hall, and several appearances in Louis Viljoen plays, such as The Kingmakers, The Eulogists, and CHAMP. Film/TV credits include Black Sails (Starz), Madiba (Out of Africa), and Troy: Fall Of A City (BBC).

Matt Newman will play Robert. Local theatre credits include lead roles in Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries (2019), Mike Bartlett’s COCK, Michael Gow’s Sweet Phoebe, and Martin Crimp’s The Treatment. Matt was part of the ensemble cast in (extra)ordinary (un)usual at the2021 National Arts Fringe Festival, which was the recipient of a Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award. Film/TV credits include Resident Evil (Netflix), Outlander (Starz), and The Crown (Netflix).


The independent theatre company (formally known as The Sugar-daddy Theatre Co.) was founded in 2010 by Marlisa Doubell and fellow founding members Leon Cling-man, Gavin Werner, and Lizanne Peters. Over the past decade, the collective has worked with numerous members and creative collaborators and, in 2013, received the People’s Choice Fleur du Cap award. Post pandemic, owners Marlisa Doubell and Lizanne Peters restructured and rebranded their company to 2Sugars Productions. Past productions include David Hare’s The Blue Room, Israel Horrovitz’s Line, David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Athol Fugard’s Hello & Good-bye, Eugene O’Neil’s Thirst, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, Mary Law’s Blueberry Toast, and plays by Doubell, including Re-lationshit! and Lady Luck.


Following his training and great body of work at Rhodes University, Chris went on to lecture at the UCT Drama Department, where he became Associate Professor and director of the Little Theatre. He founded the Intimate Theatre and was a key founder member of The Mechanicals Collective. In 2014, Chris accepted a post at AFDA and established the AFDA Theatre. Chris currently heads the drama department at LAMTA at Theatre on the Bay. Fleur du Cap awards include Best Supporting Actor in 1988, Best Director in 1990 & 1996, and the Lifetime Achievement award in 2012. Recent director credits include The Lying King, Gertrude Stein and a Companion, The Month of All Eating, and Live and Let Laugh.


Harold Pinter was born in London in 1930. He lived with Antonia Fraser from 1975 until his death on Christmas Eve 2008. He wrote 29 plays, including The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, and The Homecoming, Betrayal, and 21 screenplays including The Servant, The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Sleuth. He directed 27 theatre productions, including James Joyce’s Exiles, David Mamet’s Oleanna, seven plays by Simon Gray, and many of his own plays, including his last, Celebration, paired with his first, The Room, at The Almeida Theatre, London, in the spring of 2000. In 2005, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Other awards include the Companion of Honour for services to Literature, the Legion D’Honneur, the Laurence Olivier Award, and the Moliere D’Honneur for lifetime achievement. In 1999, he was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature. He received honorary degrees from seventeen universities.      

✳ Featured image supplied. From left: Matt Newman, Pierre Malherbe and Marlisa Doubell – Betrayal – by Harold Pinter – October 2022 staging in Cape Town by 2Sugars Productions, directed by Chris Weare.