Old Times

Harold Pinter
Donmar Warehouse
(2004)

This revival of Sir Harold Pinter's 1970 play about memory, love and sexuality is undoubtedly a success.

Trapped almost like goldfish in a gauzy aquarium, a slightly unusual couple, bearded film director, Deeley, (Jeremy Northam) and Gina McKee as his quiet wife Kate, await a visitor. She is Kate's flatmate from twenty years before, the self-possessed Anna played by Helen McCrory.

The next eighty minutes dissect the trio, as alliances shift and memories blend with fantasy. Pairs gang up on the outsider and as time lines blur, facts are exchanged in typical Pinter fashion.

Eventually, an aura of sensuality and uncertainty begins to pervade all three as experiences collide. Have Deeley and Anna met before or do they do so by some osmosis through their common bond, Kate?

On William Dudley's symmetrical modernist set, with sofas like psychiatrists' couches and mirrored surfaces everywhere, director Roger Michell moves his actors with sureness. You can often learn as much about feelings from body language and location on stage, as from what is vocalised.

All three actors are strong in difficult parts with nowhere to hide. Sympathies ebb and flow between them constantly, on a rollercoaster of emotions.

Old Times has something of the power and passion of Sir Harold's Betrayal but is rather more opaque. It is constantly challenging and intense and at times, has the feel of a musical trio that lingers in the mind.

There is little doubt that tickets will sell fast so get in quickly.

Philip Fisher