Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Old Times"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Larry Stark

"Old Times"

by Harold Pinter
Directed by Kate Caffrey

Set Design by Molly Oh
Costume Design by Robin Masi
Lighting Design by Greg Jutkiewicz
Sound Design by Kate Caffrey
Props by Kimberly Hoff
Stage Manager Erica Contini

Kate..............Brigid O'Connor
Deeley.............Michael Keamy
Anna...............Michelle Dowd

The one thing you can always be certain of in a Harold Pinter play is ambiguity. In "Old Times" it's three different memories of the past that are dogmatically indistinct. Kate's husband Deeley apparently knows nothing of her life before they met, never realized that Anna was her room-mate, and her only friend --- but he does think he remembers buying that Anna drinks at The Wayfarers' Pub, and looking up her skirts. Anna and Deeley have different memories of Kate, and few of them overlap. What seems to be true about the past fluctuates, depending on who happens to be doing the remembering at the time.

Director Kate Caffrey moves the three pieces in this game languidly but restlessly about on the intimate Beau Jest stage, first in the living room of an English seaside cottage, then in the bedroom. As Kate and Deeley anticipate her visit, Anna hangs visibly in the wings, fascinated by their conversation. Then in Act One, as Deeley describes meeting his wife for the first time at a fleabag screening of "Odd Man Out" the balance of power shifts continually as various pairings tend for a time to corroborate each other's remembrances so as to freeze out the third, before the kaleidoscope shifts. The battle for supremacy is certain only to shift, continually.

Despite arguments, occasionally sharp, about the realities of the past, Pinter's play rolls, unhurried, on, always implying, never conclusive, always about things that could have been true. As Anna, Michelle Dowd is a liquidly powerful , self-assured brown-skinned woman whose face and body, under Robin Masi's muted blue caftan, smoulder with sensuality. Her very presence provokes Michael Keamy's nervous, wiry Deeley to self-defensive attacks. And between them, often out of the action staring out a window toward a sliver of sea, Brigid O'Connor, her feet wrapped protectively under her on the couch, is more often the subject of the discussion rather than a participant in it.

It is a pleasure to watch three such confident actors weave and interweave all of Pinter's many maybes into an always intriguing, never conclusive tapestry. In the hands of experts, ambiguity can be a delight


"Old Times" (till 18 September)
Beau Jest Moving Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide