Harold Pinter’s drama of a love affair and the nature of deceit told in reverse time from its poignant ending to its thrilling first kiss.
Inspired by Pinter’s extramarital affair with BBC Television presenter Joan Bakewell, which lasted seven years, from 1962 to 1969. The plot integrates different levels of betrayal during the affair involving a married couple, and Robert’s friend Jerry, who is also married.
For five years Jerry and Emma carry on their affair without Robert’s knowledge, until Emma, without telling Jerry she has done so, admits to Robert her infidelity. This in effect betrays Jerry, although she continues their affair. Four years after exposing the affair and two years after their break up, Emma meets Jerry to tell him that her marriage to Robert is over. She lies to Jerry in telling him that, “last night”, she had revealed the truth to Robert and that he now knows of the affair. The truth is that Robert has known about the affair for the past four years.
Pinter’s particular usage of reverse chronology in the plot was very innovative. The first scene takes place after the affair has ended. The final scenes are of affair’s beginning.