Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director
Harold Wolpert, Managing Director
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
Sydney Beers, General Manager
Clive Owen, Eve Best, Kelly Reilly
(Old Times Website)
By Harold Pinter
Directed by Douglas Hodge
American Airlines Theatre
227 West 47th Street
Set Design: Christine Jones
Costume Design: Constance Hoffman
Lighting Design: Japhy Weideman
Sound Design: Clive Goodwin
Music: Thom Yorke
Hair Design: Amanda Miller
Dialect Coach: Kate Wilson
Production Stage Manager: Nevin Hedley
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA, Carrie Gardner, CSA
ďOld TimesĒ General Manager: Denise Cooper
Director of Marketing & Audience Dvpt.: Robert Sweibel
Director of Development: Lynne Guggenheim Gregory
Adams Assoc. Artistic Director: Scott Ellis
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Press: Polk & Co.
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 4, 2015
Harold Pinterís 1971 Old Times should be seen, to be thoroughly absorbed, in this writerís opinion, in a small theater with the audience in immediate proximity to the fragmented and tangled dialogue, that generates a vast array of after-show interpretations and theories. Itís whatís not said thatís often more meaningful than what is said, when one man and two women, bound by the present and the past (or were they?), meet one autumn night in a surreal space in Englandís countryside to talk, smoke, shower, lure, question, accuse, and psychologically torture one another, through spoken and unspoken thoughts. Unfortunately, in the expansive American Airlines Theatre, this Roundabout production was enormously disappointing and lacking in audible psychic tension and visual body language, that only immediacy could showcase. In fact, each audience member in my orchestra level row complained, at the end of the 70-minute play, that the dialogue was trapped and muffled. Since there was a complicated technical design, to allow not only cast dialogue, but also Thom Yorkeís deafening electronic sound effects, itís possible that Clive Goodwin, sound designer, had his work cut out, literally.
Regardless, the body language of Clive Owen as Deeley, Kelly Reilly as Kate, and Eve Best as Anna, along with Christine Jonesí giant plexiglas box in which Kate takes a shower and in which Deeley disappears, as well as giant, color-shifting, projected backdrops of concentric circles or craggy black surface, make this production a mesmerizing media event, rendering Pinterís renowned dialogue extraneous. The plot involves a married couple, Deeley and Kate, who lounge on Ms. Jonesí minimalist, chic furniture, and await the arrival of Kateís friend from the past, Anna, with whom she had roomed and who had apparently stolen and worn Kateís underwear. At this point in the dialogue, which was delivered to the stage walls as often as to the audience, those in the front rows began to giggle, setting off a vision of audience rows leaning forward. Mr. Owen as Deeley was positioned as if he were about to pounce, like a panther stalking its prey. Ms. Reilly as Kate, whose auburn hair exactly matched her tight, auburn skirt, remained understated, passive, dreamlike. When Ms. Best as Anna arrives, in revealing, silky evening wear, sexual tension abounds, or could have in a different production.
Anna chatters to Deeley about her adventures with Kate, then about an adventure with a man, who cried in Kate and Annaís long ago, shared rooms. While Kate showers, Deeley chatters to Anna about a remembered fling between these two, but, once again, most of this fragmented repartee was swallowed in space. We did hear Kateís next phrases, when she returns in a bathrobe, about remembering Anna as dead. I would love to see this play again with the long, intended silences, rather than the pulsating electronic interludes. Itís during those silences that the audience would be allowed to think and absorb. Douglas Hodge, who was favorably reviewed on these pages as a lead in La Cage Aux Folles, was characteristically, but here, inappropriately, overstated in the design direction of this play. As a media event, somewhat akin to an aesthetic experience at MOMA, this Old Times, with its sound-infused, otherworldly, projected backdrops and vertical, evocatively lit, plexiglas cube, was a resounding success.