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Rufus Sewell is quite extraordinary in this classy revival of the late Harold Pinter’s richly ambiguous 1971 memory play, a triangular power struggle which is as nebulous and mutable as swirling fog.

As forty-something filmmaker Deeley, he shares the stage with Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams – one of whom plays his wife Kate, the other Anna (her former flatmate and only friend from her days as a secretary in bohemian London) whom she hasn’t seen for 20 years.

Which actress plays which varies from night to night – mainly according to a schedule but, on some occasions, the decision is made by the flip of a coin.  

Anna (Scott Thomas at the performance I saw) is a still flirtatious, confident blonde, whilst Williams’ Kate is quiet, mousy, unreadable.

Sewell’s initial indulgent amusement at the prospect of Anna’s visit changes to angry insecurity as he finds himself in a battle of memories - with Kate, and their past, as the prize.

There are suggestions that one – or more – characters are already dead, or, perhaps, that Anna and Kate (with their once-shared underwear) are different aspects of the same woman.

Pinter isn’t telling – but Ian Rickson’s enigmatic 80 minute production keeps you hooked whilst defying a definitive interpretation…. and I’ll be returning (under my own steam) to discover what insights the alternative casting might yield.

Harold Pinter, Panton Street, SW1Y 4DN
Tube | Piccadilly Circus
Until 6th April
£10.00 -£49.50
oldtimestheplay.com

 

Image: Simon Annand


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Theatre review: Old Times at Harold Pinter theatre, until April 6
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