HAROLD Pinter is a controversial colossus of British 20th century theatre, and this is one of his most accessible, enjoyable, pacy, and interesting plays.

First produced in 1978 and set in London and Venice over the preceding decade, the play tells the story of married couple Robert and Emma, and their best friend Jerry. But all three seemingly close, caring characters have secrets – corrosive, dark, and deeply destructive.

As always with Salisbury Playhouse, the stage set is brilliantly constructed – in this case with subtle suggestions of period furniture – beds, tables and chairs – ingeniously slipping in and out of drab wallpapered house walls.

And the subtle sound effects add to the realistically bleak atmosphere – distant vehicle noises, party sounds, and avant-garde jazz.

Structurally, the play goes back in time from 1977, through the early seventies and the late sixties, revealing character developments and loads of delicious dramatic irony – where the audience realise and appreciate situations that the characters don’t.

Pinter’s dialogue is always tight, economical, realistic and revealing.

The three main characters are convincingly conveyed by Robert Hands, Kirsty Besterman, and Robert Mountford, although ironically Donavan Imber playing The Waiter (with the fewest lines) raises the most laughs and illustrates simple Italian dignity, compared to the empty sophisticated shallowness of adulterous Londoners.

This thought-provoking play is a web of interlinked betrayals – longstanding friendships, marriage and adultery, children’s feelings, morality, and even human memory.

Betrayal runs until September 23.