Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Old Times

By Harold Pinter

Old Times
Old Times

Directed by Terry McCabe

At City Lit in repertory with Private Lives

“If you have only one of something you can’t say it’s the best of anything.”

“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.”

“You have a wonderful casserole…I mean wife.” –quotes from Old Times by Harold Pinter

Excellent performances fuel Pinter’s Old Times

City Lit Theatre has Old Times in revolving repertory with Private Lives until May 3, 2009. In my review of Private Lives, I noted the terrific work from Don Bender and Cameron Feagin and I happy to report that they are also excellent in Old Times. Amazingly, both take on quite different personas in Old Times due mainlybecause they are both playing older characters. Gianine DeFrancesco, as Kate, delivers a muted and subtlety powerful turn as the object of mind games between Deeley (Bender) and Anna (Feagin).

Old Times, Pinter’s 1971 drama, 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 a miaged 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. 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 sharply biting dialogue was chilling and wonderfully written and marvelously presented by all three players. Bender’s rage and emotional outbursts were striking.

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 guess and totally engaged. City Lit’s production is first class. Pinter fans will particularly enjoy this mind numbing drama.


Tom Williams

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