first night

Old Times

Leo Mylonadis gets a dose of pre-exams Pinter

 

‘Old Times’ by Harold Pinter is an unusual play. It’s peculiarity, in the way the characters speak and behave, and in the odd subject matter, makes it all the more fascinating to watch. Lily James and Raving Mask’s interpretation of this extraordinary show makes for an oddly mesmerising evening, which left the audience far more captivated than I imagined possible.

 

‘Old Times’ tells the story (if it can be described as such) of Anna (Izzie Price) visiting her old friend and roommate Kate (Olivia Race) and her husband (Michael Yates). Something is definitely off about each and every one of these character, with an indescribable ‘whodunnit’ sense pervading the perfectly paced play from beginning to end. Very subtle, clever choices in the positioning of the actors, such Price and Race’s facing the back window, has a great effect on the oddly obscure, ghost-like sense each of these characters possess. Each of characters is beautifully crafted, which goes to show the cast’s immense talent and the director’s work with them. Right from Price’s infectious energy at the beginning through to Race’s sinister shyness, the anti-realism is only ever slightly punctuated by Yates’ amusing ice-breaking conversation. Flitting between caricature at the beginning to more fictitious, spectre-like personalities later on, the cast’s talent and rapport makes for a brilliant display of high-quality acting.

 

Pinter’s fantastic script undulates between length, poetic speeches – which feel more like soliloquys than part of any dialogue – and witty, hard-hitting humour. The interpretation and delivery of these speeches was beautiful measured, much to the credit of director Lily James and the actors. Despite certain moments verging on slightly solipsistic melodrama, it was fascinating and refreshing to see the actors deliver these beautiful speeches to each other, as opposed to the audience in a traditional and static theatrical manner. The engaging, intimate atmosphere that this created drew in the audience throughout the course of the short play, aided by the beautiful dressed set in the Horsfall Room in Chad’s. Credit must go to producers Matilda Hunter and Anna Jeary who, with the aid of very few props and furniture, extremely effectively evoked the seventies’ country home.

 

The play is also famous for its enormously ambiguous ending. Without giving anything away, James’ interpretation left many animatedly discussing the possible meaning of Race’s last monologue, something, which is unfortunately rather rare to see after an evening at the theatre. I believe this demonstrates the unique nature of this production, that is can enrapture audiences with very little more than captivating performances and a beautiful script. Running little over an hour, this is a production that anyone, provided they enter with an open mind and unresolved opinion on Pinter, will leave intrigued by and wanting more from Raving Mask’s latest success. I know I certainly was. 

25 April 2015

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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