Theatre Review: Old Times at Harold Pinter Theatre, Until April 6
TNT Magazine, 17 February 2013
Rufus Sewell is quite extraordinary in this classy revival of the late Harold Pinter’s richly ambiguous 1971 memory play, a triangular power struggle which is as nebulous and mutable as swirling fog.
As forty-something filmmaker Deeley, he shares the stage with Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams – one of whom plays his wife Kate, the other Anna (her former flatmate and only friend from her days as a secretary in bohemian London) whom she hasn’t seen for 20 years.
Which actress plays which varies from night to night – mainly according to a schedule but, on some occasions, the decision is made by the flip of a coin.
Anna (Scott Thomas at the performance I saw) is a still flirtatious, confident blonde, whilst Williams’ Kate is quiet, mousy, unreadable.
Sewell’s initial indulgent amusement at the prospect of Anna’s visit changes to angry insecurity as he finds himself in a battle of memories - with Kate, and their past, as the prize.
There are suggestions that one – or more – characters are already dead, or, perhaps, that Anna and Kate (with their once-shared underwear) are different aspects of the same woman.
Pinter isn’t telling – but Ian Rickson’s enigmatic 80 minute production keeps you hooked whilst defying a definitive interpretation…. and I’ll be returning (under my own steam) to discover what insights the alternative casting might yield.