OLD TIMES To 6 April.


by Harold Pinter.

Harold Pinter Theatre 6 Panton Street SW1Y 4DN To 6 April 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 25min No interval.

TICKETS: 0844 871 7622.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 31 January.

The past is another country, which remains tantalisingly elusive.
Six years after its 1965 premiere, Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming came to seem a point of departure. For 1971’s Old Times removed his stage world from the working-class to the affluence and sophistication of artistic success. Kate and Deeley’s isolated home near the sea is a perfect setting, when Kate’s friend Anna arrives, for the contrasting memories of 20 years earlier. A struggle emerges for possession of the past, and of Kate. It includes rival accounts of a cinema trip to see, aptly enough, Odd Man Out and the singing of mid-century love lyrics, which develop into a battle of asserted affections.

Matters end up clearly showing who the odd man is, as the door’s purposefully opened to encourage one character to leave. Intimacy is not expressed directly through sex but proposals to dry Kate after she emerges from a bath in a huge towel. Suggestions which could be cooperative become challenging, and Kate’s withdrawn manner which adds a further enigma to her.

Ian Rickson’s detailed revival has Lia Williams and Kristin Scott Thomas play both women’s roles through the run. The casting given below reflects the performance being considered, and even seeing both versions would leave the Pinter-like enigma of how each performance might be conditioned by seeing each other’s work in rehearsal.

Williams’ Kate, silent as others speak, curling-up on a sofa, is gently enigmatic compared with Scott Thomas’s energy as Anna, driving the situation, biding her tine to undermine Deeley’s initially confident recollections of old times (she’s present from the start, as if in their minds, before suddenly turning to join the scene). A film director, Deeley’s reel life authority falls away, first through an apparently confident joking manner then through being pushed into Anna’s own game as he becomes increasingly unsure of what rules Kate’s playing. The more Rufus Sewell becomes animated or vocally strong, the closer he is to the edge of his secure-seeming world.

Designer Hildegard Bechtler evokes the spirit with luxurious-seeming furniture and a huge sea-facing window, but in a room where tasteful colours also provide an expansive blankness behind the cultured surfaces.

Kate: Lia Williams.
Deeley: Rufus Sewell.
Anna: Kristin Scott Thomas.

Director: Ian Rickson.
Designer: Hildegard Bechtler.
Lighting: Peter Mumford.
Sound: Paul Groothuis.
Music: Stephen Warbeck.
Assistant director: Sophie Austin.

2013-02-04 09:20:55

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