There's more than a trace of commedia dell'arte buffoonery in Love, Betrayal. Gee rapturously and at length sniffs sexy Gabrielle Malone (the long-ago "wife" Elvira); she pushes him away disdainfully, then smells herself, wondering, perhaps, what he found beguiling. Robinson (terrific, if mugging a bit too heavily) dances to Leporello's great Mozartean catalog of his master's conquests as if ducking chamber pots emptied from above. Gee concludes a speech with a backflip. Master and servant collapse to the floor and lie there, feet twitching rhythmically, while Lisa Östberg (Donna Anna/Mathurine) dances with cool provocativeness. (The women's characters and goals are less defined than the men's.) A trio for Malone and the guys is an elegant slapstick carnival of lecherous lifts. The sexes declare war by crouching and barking.
The work is deeper and more nuanced than it might sound. Hultman weaves its elements with sure control, rarely lapsing in her mix of the hallowed, the contemporary, and the timeless (Östberg, alas, announces, "I'm so fucking gorgeous"). The dancers' clothes are a bit too any-old, but there's nothing sloppy about their performing or about Hultman's wit and wisdom.