By Harold Pinter
Directed by Kimberly Senior
At Strawdog Theatre, Chicago
“There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened. There are things I remember which may never have happened but as I recall them so they take place”
“I was interested once in the arts, but I can’t remember now which ones they were.”
“If you have only one of something you can’t say it’s the best of anything.”
“You have a wonderful casserole…I mean wife.” –quotes from Old Times by Harold Pinter
Sensuality permeates in riveting production of Pinter’s Old Times
Director Kimberly Senior’s decision to cast younger actors in Harold Pinter’s 1971 work – Old Times – brings a strong sense of sensuality to the work not found when older actors play the threesome. John Henry Roberts (Deeley), Kate (Abigail Boucher) and Michaela Petro (Anna) were most effective in developing strong sexual tension as their memories manipulate the past.
Old Times is a static, wordy affair that unfolds as a psychological exercise in mind games designed as competition between Deeley and Anna for Kate’s affection. Deeley and Kate are near middle aged married couple living in a rural farm house in Britain. Deeley rambles on how Kate has no friends—she claims one—Anna who will be visiting them shortly. (Note: all three are mostly on stage through the 75 minute production.)
Quickly the battle is on between Anna and Deeley. The verbal barbs fly as their deadly combat rages. When Kate retires to take a bath, Deeley remembers that he met Anna more than 20 years ago in a pub. Anna and Kate were roommates 20 years ago before Kate married Deeley. The witty and bitterly biting dialogue was chilling and marvelously presented by all three players. Robert’s emotional outbursts uncovered his sexual desire for Anna.
Pinter is deliberately vague and crafty in Old Times. Was there a gay relationship between Anna and Kate? Or is Kate and Anna really the same person? Is the play reality or a mind game between Deeley and Anna? Pinter deftly presents the power of our memories to play tricks on us. There is truth and then there is what we think happened. This psychological drama will keep you guessing and totally engaged. Michaela Petro and Abigail Boucher exude pent-up sexual desire as both do their part in the three-way battle. My only complaint with this powerful production was that, at times, all three players spoke so softly as to be hard to hear. But each presented and developed the dramatic tension necessary for the play to be riveting. Pinter’s classic work is in good hands here.
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Date Reviewed: October 9, 2011
At Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, tickets $28 with group/senior/student discounts available, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 4pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission, through November 12, 2011