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Old Times

Last night’s performance of Old Times by the London Classic Theatre company provoked a mixed but tepid bag of emotions, with its disturbing, intriguing and ultimately confusing portrayal of three characters reminiscing about the events of twenty years ago

Published on June 23rd 2006.


Old Times
By Harold PinterDirected by Michael Cabot

Old Times is one of Nobel prize winner Harold Pinter’s less performed plays, and it’s not difficult to see why.

Last night’s performance of Old Times by the London Classic Theatre company provoked a mixed but tepid bag of emotions, with its disturbing, intriguing and ultimately confusing portrayal of three characters reminiscing about the events of twenty years ago.

The play focuses on filmmaker Deeley (Richard Stemp) and his wife Kate (Jakie Drew) who live in seclusion by the seaside, but whose peaceful and seemingly idyllic world is shaken when Kate’s former room mate Anna (Julie Hale) comes to visit after a 20 year absence.

As the trio reminisce, identities merge, events take dark turns and the timid and seemingly docile Kate becomes a prize contested over by Deeley and Anna in their mental struggle for dominance, which is characterised by silences as much as by words.

While Pinter’s descriptive and poetic dialogue takes us back to an urban, bohemian London of the 1950’s, Geraldine Bunzl’s silvery white set and the sounds of the waves that beckon on the two acts lend the play an ethereal other worldliness, which is only enhanced by the characters’ unnatural dialogue and ambiguous relationships.

Jackie Drew’s Kate comes across not as the sweet, timid girl that her husband and friend purport her to be, but as serene, self assured and somewhat indifferent, while Julie Hale’s Anna is creepy and manipulative. The equivocal nature of Anna leads the audience to question whether she really does, or ever did exist, or whether she is merely a repressed side of Kate’s personality. Richard Stemp brings a dose of likeable buffoonery to his role of arrogant and possessive husband Deeley.

This is an intelligent, interesting and somewhat sinister play by the UK’s greatest living playwright. Michael Cabot’s interpretation of this challenging work leads the audience towards no conclusion, but delights in the ambiguity and blurring of the characters, meaning that the audience leaves with no certain understanding of what has really happened.

I’m sorry to say though, that after a pondering the possibilities for a few minutes as I left the theatre, I didn’t really find myself caring too much. This was an enjoyable production by a great cast, but any reactions that it provoked in me remained locked away in the Lowry Quays theatre.

Jayne Robinson
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At The Lowry until Saturday 24th June 2006
Box Office 0870 787 5790

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