Ah, Pinter. What a brilliant playwright you are. The structure of this play is so amazing - by going back in time we see how many layers there are to these relationships. We know who has a secret and when. I worked on a Jerry/Emma scene from this play in a class at ASF and as an exercise we read the other scenes in order of year - starting with the last scene of the play and working forward and it was a great exercise because the play could be done that way but Pinter chose to show the story in reverse. If you go in order of the years then you have a story of two people who have an affair and we see it break down. We aren't sure if this is a comedy or a drama. But, if you go backwards then you begin with the destruction and we watch what brought these two people to the edge. We know what we're getting into right from the beginning.
There is a moment in Scene Eight where this couple could have taken a very different path. Emma says to Jerry:
Tell me . . . have you ever thought . . . of changing your life?
In this moment, this beautiful Pinter pause, there are so many words. There are the thousands of possibilities that are racing through both Emma and Jerry's heads. There are the scenarios in which they play house, the simplicity of a life without kids, the fear of giving up life as they know it, the complexity of ending their current relationships. If Jerry had given her one glimmer of hope, they might have had a very different life. Instead, he denies all those other options and all those doors close. And true to Pinter fashion, it's all said in a pause.
Thursday Play-a-day: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller