Betrayal

Betrayal: Everything in popular culture can be referred back to Seinfeld, even a major work by a Nobel Prize-winning playwright. Harold Pinter's 1978 play was the inspiration for what is colloquially referred to as "The Backwards Episode" of Seinfeld, which aired November 20, 1997. The sitcom episode begins with Jerry, Elaine, and George returning from a wedding in India, and unspools backwards to take in the events leading up to their trip. (The groom in the story is named Pinter.) The play begins with the aftermath of an affair that threatens the marriage of Emma and Robert, and moves backward in time, from the end of the affair to its beginning. The innovative technique gives weight to the small moments and offhand remarks that contribute to the dissolution of their bonds in a way that a conventionally chronological narrative could not. Betrayal is considered one of Pinter's masterpieces. Frank Houston Through April 15 at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 322 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-514-4042, or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.

La Cage aux Folles: The Actors' Playhouse presents the Tony Award-winning musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman. Based on a 1973 play by Jean Poiret, and a subsequent 1978 screen version that was one of the most popular foreign films ever released in the United States (before it was remade in 1996 by Mike Nichols as The Bird Cage, which was filmed on South Beach), La Cage Aux Follesis about a male gay couple and the misadventures that ensue when their son brings home his fiancée's ultraconservative parents to meet them. Herman's award-winning score features the popular songs "I Am What I Am," "With You on My Arm," and "The Best of Times." — Frank Houston Through April 8 at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. Call 305-444-9293, or visit www.actorsplayhouse.org.

I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given To Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda: This story of a frustrated writer-turned-teacher named Simon (John van Dalen), and the friendship he develops with a young lady named Juliette (Tara Vodihn), a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, is told largely through the two main characters' inner monologues. Juliette has written a history of the genocide, tracing its roots to colonialism and old tribal antipathies. Simon suggests she put more of herself into it, make it more of a memoir and less of a study. When the young lady from Rwanda tries to do so, the attempt turns into a painful exorcism of her inner demons. Catharsis! Resolution! Peace! This story about the redeeming power of art could have been interesting, but the idea undergoes no transformation, no rigorous investigation. Instead, we view scene after scene of Juliette, wondering over the oddities of Western life; Juliette haunted again and again by the horror she's witnessed; Juliette writing; Juliette failing to write; Juliette scared of writing; Juliette writing again; Juliette failing again; Juliette getting scared again. John van Dalen is utterly wasted in this play. His take on Simon is simultaneously genteel, befuddled, and righteous. Watching Remarkable Document limp across the stage, one looks forward to his monologues: He's got a self-effacing sweetness that makes even the dumbest, most inessential lines appealing, and even entertaining. There is nothing entertaining about Tara Vodihn. Despite the shoddy plot, the indifferent writing, the absence of ideas, and Vodihn's bizarrely Asiatic notion of Rwanda, there are a handful of scenes that almost achieve liftoff, moments when you begin to get a sense of the story that could have been told here. Brandon K. Thorp Through March 18 at New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables. Call 305-443-5909, or visit www.new-theatre.org.

 
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