at Remy Bumppo think theatreThe importance of words and the triumph of acting is what impressed me the most when I saw Harold Pinter's play, Old Times, performed last night at Remy Bumppo Theatre. The feeling I had was simply electric from the first moments of the play when Deeley (Nick Sandys) and Anna (Linda Gillum) are conversing, waiting for the arrival of Anna's old friend from twenty years ago to arrive.
When she does appear, Kate (Jenny McKnight) seems to almost be the alter ego, or perhaps the flip side, of Anna in temperament and character. Character matters and these actors made every moment interesting as they brought these characters alive for this short, electric evening of theater. Words matter too, for this play had words tossed about, questioned, and used in a contest of wills between all three characters.
I found the play suspenseful, not due to an action-filled plot but, due to the subtle character changes and reactions between each of the players as they jousted with words and remembered 'old times'. I still remember wondering at the interval if Anna would completely fall apart, or some new moment or word or perceived slight would turn the play in another direction. I also enjoyed the bantering with snippets of song and the recalled cinematic reference to Carol Reed's Odd Man Out, both of which play important parts in the dramatic events of the evening.
Most of all there are the lingering questions about the reality of it all, the contradictions among the stories told and the memories related. In the end the power of these actors to make this play work, with its meaning-laden words and silences, was what made this evening of theater one of the best that I have experienced. It made me realize the importance of the actor in the playwright, and the genius of Harold Pinter.