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A fangirly account of 'Betrayal' with John Simm in it.  
9th-Jun-2012 09:34 am
I know this isn't strictly Life on Mars, but, it is John Simm and the play is set in the 70's ;) Hope this is ok.

genesbitch otherwise known as Jenny D, went up to the Sheffield Crucible on Thursday to see John Simm and Colin Tierney in 'Betrayal'. With kind permission, here is her account in full fangirly flourish :)

This is a complete fangirly account of Betrayal at Sheffield Crucible theatre, starring John Simm, Colin Tierney and Ruth Gemmell. And i make no excuses for this.

A quick synopsis of the play to begin with – it’s basically a three hander (there is a waiter character to offer some funny moments but largely it’s just the three of them), with John and Colin as best friends, but John has being having an affair with Colin’s wife, Ruth, over the course of the last seven years. The plays works backwards from Ruth telling John she has told her husband about the affair, to Colin telling John he knew all along, and then backwards to Ruth wife telling Colin originally, John and Ruth meeting for afternoon “lunches”, and right back to when their affair initially began. It’s a wonderful play, fully of sexual tension and long pauses and stolen glances, and lots and lots of heartbreak. I’m a big fan of man pain (any David Morrissey fan loves the man pain) and this was full of it.

The play is set across different years, but largely set in the 1970s, which of course meant vintage 70s clothes costumes! Any self respecting Life On Mars fan is immediately reduced to a puddle of squee upon seeing John Simm in flares and heeled boots with blakeys, and yes, i had precisely that reaction. As soon as i saw John in that beautiful mix of browns and beiges and dark reds i knew no matter what the performance may bring i was going to die happy. Later, John was to change into a thigh skimming black leather jacket with large lapels and i audibly squealed. My Mum looked at me and i just about managed to say, “Sam’s jacket!”. I missed the next say 2 minutes of dialogue because my mind had wandered to a not entirely pure place. Another gorgeously cute note to make regarding the costumes was that at one point John was wearing a long, beige mack and the sleeves had been folded over and stitched up because he has short arms. Most of my jackets and coats are adapted in precisely the same way, nice to know i’m not the only one who can’t find coat sleeves that fit!

Enough of the costume, though i will return to it later on,  at the very beginning of the performance John enters first and as i was on the front row he was stood right beside me waiting to take to the stage. The lights were off and the only light that was on gave me no clue as to who was stood beside me, all i could make out was that it was a man with very grey sideburns. Of course as soon as he walked onto the stage i knew it was John – there is only one man in the world who swaggers like John! – but my he has gone incredibly grey all of a sudden. Later on i was to notice that Colin has also gone very rapidly grey since i last saw him 18 months ago so i am assuming (hoping?) they have both had cosmetic help in achieving their hair colourings!

And then John spoke – that upper class, tennis playing, wife swapping, accent that all Pinter plays incorporate – and there was only one voice that he could have modelled it on. He sounded like Phil Glenister! This amused me for a while and then John said something funny (the opening scene was very amusing) and i saw that little pouty smiley thing he does and i went all warm and fuzzy. The accent suddenly wasn’t all that important. Incidentally i think Colin’s accent was better, though i desperately missed his Irish brogue!

Early on in the play John and Colin meet in Colin’s study to discuss the revelation that John has being having an affair with Colin’s wife. And John’s character is heartbroken when Colin reveals he has known about the affair for years but chose to continue with his marriage and not say anything. John thought he and Colin were best friends and feels betrayed. And John started crying. Really crying. It was so beautifully sad. Later on, as the scenes skipped back to the moment Colin first puts the pieces together and confronts his wife about his suspicions, Colin too cried, and there were some serious tears rolling down that man’s cheeks. I just wanted to cuddle him he looked so heartbreakingly vulnerable. His world shattered and it’s a testament to his acting skill that i welled up for him!

Obviously, given the play is largely about adultery, there were lots of heated moments and the moment when John led Ruth onto a bed at the back of the stage, whilst unbuttoning his shirt, was fingers-under-the-collar time. I used every ounce of my being to prevent myself from wolf whistling. There were also lots of stolen kisses and lingering embraces, it was all very fitting with the play and my little fangirl gremlin in my head was dancing with joy  at being witness to it all.

There was a fabulous slashy moment as well when Colin says to his wife maybe he should have had the affair with John instead. They could have played squash together and then showered together and then ”lunched” together. This happens whilst all three characters are on stage – Ruth looks awfully awkward and Colin pushes his luck to see her squirm in front of her former lover. John meanwhile loves it, he confidently struts around the stage, sipping his tumbler of whisky, watching the spectacle. And, in my tiny mind, enjoying the suggestions Colin was proffering.

During the final scene, set in 1968, John comes onto the stage wearing all black. A high-neck black sweatshirt and black trousers, and then proceeded to stand over a light at the bottom of the stage. And in that moment, and only a dedicated Simm fan/complete mentalist would notice this, in that moment his hair was washed out against the darkness and he was instantly blonde Master for a second or two. Again, i made an odd, and audible, noise which i managed to stifle as clearing my throat.  Throughout this final scene, which is when the affair begins, John is drunk and he unleashes a long monologue upon Ruth about how much he loves her and how beautiful she is. He says how she bowls him over with her self and how life will never be the same again. How the words he is speaking, which he has fought so hard to find, have never been said before and never will be said again because there will never be another moment like this. It was one of those moments that makes your heart swell, and naturally, the affair begins then and there – who could possibly resist such charm?! I think ever female in the audience was secretly pretending John was speaking directly to them.

After the performance i wandered round to the stage door. Ruth was first out and nobody seemed interested in speaking to her so i took the initiative and had a photo with her and had her sign my program. Then John came out (in a slight rush because Dean Andrews was waiting for him in the bar!) but was happy to sign for everyone and have photos with everyone. I told him he was amazing and he said thank you and flashed me that grin of his. He was wearing the sexiest leather biker jacket and Elvis t-shirt. Very sexy. Then Colin came out and everyone was too preoccupied with John so i chatted to Colin for a while (my God that man is beautiful, with a beautiful accent to boot) and he was happy to pose for a photo. I told him how much i loathe Pinter and he agreed with me and we had a chat about how much we hate The Birthday Party. I said it had all gone a bit mad because John came out before him and he said he could understand, even he was a bit n love with him (ARGH! Fangirl squee in my head!). I then said goodnight to Colin so some other girls could man handle him and he squeeze-patted my hip and said goodbye. In my head i clicked my heels and skipped away. In reality i saw John was leaving the crowd also and made my Mum half run/walk after him so we could walk behind him. We were going the same way as him, honest. We followed behind him at a safe distance for a few minutes and as he turned to go into the bar he turned and smiled at us. He knew we’d been following him, epic fail! But he was nice enough to give us that extra smile and knew we were harmless enough. As we walked on i saw Dean waiting in the bar for John but we decided not to bother them any further. I was already one very happy girl.

And here is the photo she managed to get...

As an aside, this is the photo that she, myself and elfbert tried to get with him all those years ago when we went to the Baftas. Good on her! I'm so chuffed for her XD

9th-Jun-2012 10:21 am (UTC)
WOW, thank you so much for sharing! I laughed long and loud at some parts (basing his voice on Glenister and wearing a leather jacket and blakeys how much does he miss LoM!) and then cried a few tears when I finished reading it because it was too far away to go, damnit. XD But I got to experience it through this post. <3
9th-Jun-2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
I giggled my butt off when I read those bits, and I really wouldn't have been able to stop myself wolf whistling either. :) xx

Edited at 2012-06-09 04:28 pm (UTC)
9th-Jun-2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this! This is far better than any newspaper write-up, because this is what the fans want to know, not what the posh theatre-type people think we ought to be interested in!

I'm glad to see that John has learnt to handle the whole stage-door thing (he was very uncomfortable with it during Elling, and didn't really want to talk to anyone), and bless him for grinning at you following him!

Does he still have that astonishing stage presence where you just can't stop yourself groaning/grunting when he first appears? It certainly sounds like it from this.
9th-Jun-2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
Apparently he does :D and yes when he did Elling he was very awkward about the whole thing, but he seems to have improved a little bless him.

She had a blast and I'm so glad she finally got that illusive smiley hug shot.


Edited at 2012-06-09 04:29 pm (UTC)
9th-Jun-2012 06:43 pm (UTC)
Ah, that's sweet! Thanks so much to your friend, and thanks for posting!

10th-Jun-2012 08:26 am (UTC)
Jen used to be on here quite alot but RL got in the way, she still sneaks over to read a few fics occasionally when she needs her fix :) She'll be chuffed everyone liked her account xx
10th-Jun-2012 09:00 am (UTC)
We'd love to see her here more often! Thanks again,

9th-Jun-2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
That's a wonderful account of the experience! I love it! I would have been too shy to speak to him... or maybe not.

His hair is going a beautiful steel grey (spoken as someone who already has hair that color!)
10th-Jun-2012 08:27 am (UTC)
Bless Jen but she doesn't do shy! lol. I kind of squee-d for the grey hair, I bet he looked so 'distinguished' and nothing wrong with steel grey, I think it's a lovely colour xxx
9th-Jun-2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
I saw it tonight and it was amazing :-) at one point though John was facing me and Colin had his back to me and I couldn't help but think that his hair was like Phil's when he's Gene Hunt. So yeah... for a few moments I was watching Life on Mars Live. Hehehe.
10th-Jun-2012 08:28 am (UTC)
lol, I think Jen had a few of those moments, obviously I am so jealous that you both got to go, but I'm so pleased for both of you, lol, you got to see Phil too *squee* xxx
9th-Jun-2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful account! Having got the autograph but been too shy to ask for a photo this time around, I am delighted that Genesbitch got her photo with John - and boy is a good 'un! Love the whole account, but especially Colin admitting that he hates Pinter, LOL. You'd never know it... suspect he may have been joking...? But he's very chatty, isn't he - when we walked up the hill (with John following us!) he and my friend were having a good old natter...and yes, John really did seem far more relaxed with his fans this time, even more so than during Hamlet, when I think he was just so exhausted after each show. It's nice to see that the whole Dr Who thing has calmed down, now its mostly John fans as opposed to Master fans (although I'm one of those too, LOL, as I suspect many of us are) and everyone is very well behaved and respectful.

I wondered too if the grey hair thing was cosmetic and for the play - although the characters are much the same ages as John and Colin I think, so I'm not sure why they would 'grey up' as it were - the play spans 7 years, 1977 to 1968 and they are 36 somewhere in the middle...

The last (first) scene in the bedroom was an utterly brilliant scene, and so joyous and yet so unbearably sad when you realise how it ends... and yes, the whole John in black and his joyful, almost Master-esq manic behaviour in part of the scene is probably my favourite scene of the whole play, but I love every minute of it - as Jenny noted during the scene when Jerry (John) discovers that his 'best friend' Robert (Colin) has known about the affair for years and said nothing, the Simm tears are really heart-breaking; I was lucky enough to have a front row seat on my fourth viewing, right in front of the leather lounger where he curls in on himself and covers his face and cries... and it is immensely powerful and quite distressing to behold - you feel as if you are prying by watching so closely and yet you're meant to... as I think John says in one of his interviews (The Times, I think it was), if you were thinking of having an affair, this play would put you right off; it holds no punches and the clipped, almost savage dialogue is quite brutal at times.

Going back to Jenny's assertion that she hates Pinter, I'm come to understand that he's a playwright you either love or hate. Even when I read the text prior to seeing it (which I kind of wish I hadn't, now, to get the full effect) I wasn't entirely sure if I would like it... but within minutes of the first scene starting I was hooked; the beauty of Pinter's dialogue IMHO is that it's in the performance only that it comes to life - on the page it's just...bare. I suppose that's true of plays in general, but it particularly struck me with this, the first Pinter play I'd ever seen, more so than any other play I've watched live. John has tweeted that he hopes to do more Pinter and I for one can't wait...

Thanks so much for sharing Jenny's experience - I'm feeling a bit glum knowing that the show is over and I'll never see that particular version again... but this account made me smile and think fondly back on my own experiences, so thank you both for that! XD
10th-Jun-2012 08:33 am (UTC)
I'm feeling extremely glum that I couldn't travel up and see it and now I'll not get the chance to see John and Colin's version ever again, but from everything everyone's said, they made it their own.

Pinter is the playwrite equivelent of marmite, you love or hate him. But, I've found, you can dislike him but still learn to appreciate his talent.

She'll be so glad you all enjoyed her account.

10th-Jun-2012 09:54 am (UTC)
I'm really sad to hear that you didn't get the chance to see it, milly_gal. But the good news is that John has tweeted that he hopes to do more Pinter (though it was just the one tweet and he didn't say when- I guess these things take time to come about but it does sound as though discussions may already be under way, so fingers crossed that it won't be too far off!)... so maybe you'll be able to make it next time!

That's a great analogy, Pinter = Marmite!!! I had that sense even before I'd read the text or seen the play, but put me in the 'Love Pinter' camp because his dialogue just keeps on giving - can't remember now if I mentioned it here or in another review somewhere (I've left a fair few comments all over the place, LOL) but I do feel that his famous 'Pinter pauses' are so inspired, because they give the audience time to consider what has just been said, and to follow the character's train of thought. There were many moments over the four times I was lucky enough to see the play when I found myself thinking 'that would make another whole scene/play if you explored that...' and so help me, I am SO tempted to try my hand at what I suppose you could only call 'Pinter Fan Fic'! Erm, in fact I have actually started one, but its still a WiP and I don't know at the moment if it will ever see the light of day... I've actually ordered one of the compilation books of other Pinter plays on Amazon, and as soon as it arrives I will be reading them all and trying to work out which one John might be tempted to do next... it is a very good time to be a John Simm fan, I have to say, and I can hardly wait to see which one he will go for. I may have to start a discussion somewhere so that we can talk about it...LOL. Incidentally I do love her summary of what the play is about - very concise and a great overview!

Mandy has actually posted part of her account on http://www.johnsimm.net/index.cgi?board=theatre&action=display&thread=2731&page=14 , along with some lovely photographs, but this version has more detail. I may ask her if she might consider posting a link to this version for the benefit of other forum members who'd like to know more... XD
10th-Jun-2012 10:00 am (UTC)
Oh, thankyou so much for the link.

It is indeed a fabulous time to be a Simm fan. For a long while, a lot of people didn't get it, but now, it seems they are. He's always had a strong following of core, dedicated fans who watch what he does, film, tv, stage and love it, but he seems to be gathering a wider following and especially of his peers. Which fills me with joy for him.

Pinter is, like I said in the previous comment, talented, even genius, but he just doesn't click for some. I'm not the greatest fan but I can appreciate the pregnant pauses, the weight to his words, he knows how to weave a yarn that stays with you long after you walk away from the stage.

I'm actually kind of jealous, the whole pinter-like fic idea is genius and I would love a copy of his works, may go hunting after pay day.

And don't fret for me, there will be plenty of oppertunities for me to see Simm in the environment he loves most, he'll do more theatre and I'll be there to enjoy the experience.

Watching him in Elling was amazing. He has such a stage presence that no matter if you're a fan of his work, you just can not ignore.

10th-Jun-2012 10:18 am (UTC)
Oh yes, I agree about John's core fan-base - and the great thing is that now he seems to be more at ease with us - all the accounts I've read of stage door and bar encounters this time around make me so happy... it has always been the one thing I've felt bad about previously, that he always seemed so uncomfortable with being recognised and complimented and that, rather unfairly, he seemed to have got a bit of a reputation for being a bit 'off' so that some people felt afraid to approach him - and the damn media didn't help much with that, did they, going on about 'prickly' this, and 'grumpy' that. And they're still doing it (the Yorkshire Post writer ruined an otherwise great piece by referring to it - even though he then went on to say it was undeserved, you couldn't help thinking 'well why b****y mention it all, then? Don't perpetuate the myth...!)... and as anyone who has met him will tell you, he is so not like that! OK everyone has off days but I think I've maybe heard two or perhaps three accounts, which is nothing...

I saw 'Elling' an embarrassing number of times (more than 4, less than 10!), both at the Bush and Trafalgar studios and it was, I agree, amazing. I know it wouldn't be the same, because nothing can compare to the live experience, but I really wish all John's theatre shows were available in DVD form so that we have it on record and can re-live... I know snippets of Elling, Speaking in Tongues and Hamlet were recorded for press reviews, but that isn't nearly enough... I don't actually know whether they did that for 'Betrayal', though ... not even sure if they had a First Night party with photos like they did for Hamlet; not seen anything on the net so I'm guessing they didn't. Perhaps because of the last minute cast change? Who knows... shame though. I can't speak for anyone else but that is part of the reason I always go more than once, because live theatre is so fleeting, in a way - it's performed and then its gone, save for the memories and the reviews...

Anyway, I'm rambling on far too much and I have a stack of ironing to do, so... ;-)
9th-Jun-2012 10:05 pm (UTC) - The Final Scene
Not the best quality, but if you want to hear John perform the final scene of Betrayal, download this:


I can't believe I saw the play only 3 times!
10th-Jun-2012 08:29 am (UTC) - Re: The Final Scene
Oh I shall deffo be downloading that, thankyou so much :) xx
10th-Jun-2012 10:01 am (UTC) - Re: The Final Scene
I think you were amazingly brave to do that, Peter_Popper - and so glad you did because that is my favourite scene and its a lovely reminder of the play and John's brilliant performance! I'm almost hopping with impatience to hear all about the final show and to see any photos fans may have taken at the stage door and so on. Don't laugh but I was literally clock-watching yesterday evening; kept thinking stuff like, 'They'll all be taking their seats now...the first scene will be under way... restaurant scene... and when I knew the final scene would be about drawing to a close I actually felt quite emotional and so gutted that I hadn't decided to somehow make the final show. Next time I have have promised myself that whichever other days I go, I am definitely going to be there for the last night... I hope they had a really good one, and got a standing ovation because that was one heck of a play and yes, John and Colin and Ruth all owned those parts, definitely. I've never seen another version and I am not sure I really want to...
10th-Jun-2012 10:22 am (UTC) - Re: The Final Scene
I only saw 'Hamlet' twice and I will forever regret not going again... '...the rest is silence...' *sighs*
10th-Jun-2012 01:44 am (UTC)
John and grey hair--oh, so handsome. What a great pic of the two of them.
10th-Jun-2012 08:29 am (UTC)
She's totally made up, lol, don't blame her. xx
10th-Jun-2012 12:03 pm (UTC)
There are some fabulous pics of *swoons* John and Phil outside the stage door last night here (hope Kurdt01 won't mind me posting a link!) :http://www.johnsimm.net/index.cgi?board=theatre&action=display&thread=2731&page=15

11th-Jun-2012 04:23 am (UTC)
I checked the pics out, they are so *swoon* worthy. And he does look good with silvery hair. Ummpphh ;) xxx
10th-Jun-2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
Hello all, i have made my way over here to say thank you for all your lovely replies to my review! Thanks to Milly, of course, for posting it, even my ugly gurning face(!). I wrote a very long review of my experience when i met David Morrissey after "Macbeth" and a few of my friends asked me to write one for "Betrayal". In both cases i wanted to write what the fangirls would want to read, given i am a huge one myself :D There is just something you don't get from those clinical, unbiased, reviews isn't there? ;0)

I'm going to try and hang around a bit more, i used to read and post often on here but, as Mills said, life just got in the way. I am a huge LOM fan still (and in particular John and Phil), but you know, sometimes you actually have to go to work and face demanding bosses and all that rubbish, so i don't get the opportunity to engage in my favourite past time all that much anymore, more's the pity.

Thanks again for all the comments, i'm chuffed you enjoyed reading it,
Jen x
11th-Jun-2012 04:24 am (UTC)
Knew they would :) xx

Edited at 2012-06-11 04:24 am (UTC)
11th-Jun-2012 07:03 am (UTC)
Thanks again! I'm glad you had a fabulous time!

11th-Jun-2012 11:58 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for writing this and thanks to Milly for posting this! It's a fab account and a lovely photo.
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