Roundabout Theatre Company presents Clive Owen in his Broadway debut in this unsettling drama of desire and blurred realities by British playwright Harold Pinter. More…
A married couple are visited by the wife's former roommate, whose presence raises questions about the nature of the three's past and present relationships with each other. Deeley is quite looking forward to meeting Anna, his wife Kate’s friend from long ago. But as the night goes on, Anna’s visit quickly shifts from an ordinary sharing of memories to a quiet battle for power. Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge directs this revival of the haunting and passionate play, which has not been seen on Broadway in over 40 years.
"Seldom has an enigma been as ravishingly compelling as in the provocative revival of 'Old Times' that opened Tuesday night. With a trio of fine British actors breathing life into their cryptic characters, the dance of memory and seduction in Harold Pinter's brief 1971 play never flags for an instant...Under the vibrant direction of actor Douglas Hodge, the actors give a flesh-and-blood dimension to a deep, clever, understated play that could, in the wrong hands, be simply fanciful." Full Review
"A haunting revival with a sterling cast...The result is an electrifying hour of theater that crackles like lightning...As always with Pinter there is an element of menace and mystery that creeps into the most banal banter, and Hodge's brilliant cast delivers both." Full Review
"Under the deft direction of Douglas Hodge, 'Old Times' casts its spell from the moment we enter the theater and refuses to relent until we leave...Hodge excels at drawing out the comedy in Pinter's script...This beautiful and bewildering production holds us enthralled from beginning to end." Full Review
"The stars of 'Old Times' always look like they’re a second away from having sex. Clive Owen, Eve Best and Kelly Reilly generate such heat, you may need a cold shower after the show. Or maybe just a rub against what looks like a giant icicle on that stage...You may not tell what it all means, if anything, yet the message comes through: Game on!" Full Review
"Pinter's play is handsomely mounted, beautifully cast, and staged with care and affection by the gifted Douglas Hodge...If at times somewhat confused, I was aware that this company had created something unique...If you are intrigued by a play that is more a mood piece than story, a pas de trois for three perfectly cast actors, then get thee to the American Airlines, for you’re not likely ever to see this play more beautifully done." Full Review
"The parts are played with vigour, brasher than you would expect to see on an English stage...The sexy edge is more angular, the stakes are higher, the comedy quite a bit funnier. All deliberately so. It reaps rewards often." Full Review
"Watching this tense, suspenseful update of Harold Pinter’s 1971 drama, you might find yourself questioning what that really means. Is the past really what you remember? Is it what you only think you remember...? The play keeps you guessing the whole time. That’s a big part of the fun — if it’s possible to find 'fun' in a play this dark." Full Review
"The Roundabout Theater Company’s Broadway revival of 'Old Times' can’t possibly miss. Harold Pinter’s three-handed battle for sexual dominance is an incredibly sexy play, properly cast here with three incredibly sexy performers: Clive Owen, Kelly Reilly and Eve Best. Director Douglas Hodge has made some curious production choices, but once the erotic games begin, you hardly notice that the writer’s signature pauses and ominous silences have been trimmed." Full Review
"Owen’s Deeley abounds with archness but doesn’t reach into the core of his pain or loss...But it’s Best who commands attention. Her Anna is smart, alluring, vulnerable and quixotic. 'There are things I remember which may never have happened but as I recall them so they take place,' Anna says at one point. 'Old Times' is just as slippery, mysterious and seductive." Full Review
"The actors share a feverish imagination that doesn’t have much to do with the text, but nonetheless illuminates it in quirky ways. I haven’t had this much fun in the theater since Ivo van Hove set 'A Streetcar Named Desire' in a bathtub at the New York Theatre Workshop. Having fun isn’t what you typically expect from watching a Harold Pinter play, much less one of his more indecipherable works...Pinter purists will hate this production." Full Review
"Audience response will depend largely on the appetite for Pinter at his most opaque — or some might even say attenuated...Its fascination is quieter and more cryptic, to the point where some will find it bloodless...This is quite a sexy production that coaxes out both the sensuousness and the sorrow in the text, as well as the needling humor." Full Review
"This Pinter sizzles, thanks to a ramped-up atmosphere and some hot, hot actors...In 65 loaded minutes of shifting dynamics, I’m not sure if Deeley and Kate and Anna know anything about each other—or if we know anything about this play, which remains as alluring and sexy and ultimately unknowable as any of these sexy, sizzling stars. How can you use your memory to review a play whose message is that memory is completely unreliable?" Full Review
"If this production stumbles at times, it’s in the stylised poise of Reilly’s performance. She’s a fantasy figure, rather than the fearfully blank space where a person used to be...This twisting, elusive play becomes a tale of a haunting. But here, the chill comes not from the supernatural but the past. The play prickles with unspoken trauma and Hodge succeeds in turning the temperature to sub-zero." Full Review
"Hodge and company play the humor over the menace, which mostly works in this brief drama...Detracting from the whole is that set, which is framed by an abstract swirl of circles, and some introductory music by Thom Yorke that nearly had me bolting from the theater before the proceedings got under way. Once they did however, I was hooked. I only wish I could figure out who was reeling me in." Full Review
"A carefully cultivated revival...The sensory-assault announces we’re back in Pinter territory: abstract, and make-of-it whatever we will...The lack of action may lead you to find it polarizing -- I loved hearing one theatergoer confidently sniff to a companion: 'Well, this is art!' We can never be sure the truths the characters talk about are true at all. To paraphrase the playwright, the past is what these characters remember...or pretend they remember." Full Review
"There is plenty of mystery, and it isn't just the plot, surrounding this revival. Most mysterious is the need for the kind of pretentious, if also a bit distracting, production enhancements that envelope its second revival at the Roundabout...It's good to report, however, that all that high-tech framing doesn't reduce the glow from the actors. Neither does it significantly diminish the suspense in a play that has intrigued audiences since it first opened on Broadway in 1971." Full Review
"It is a bumpy ride. It is up to the viewer to disseminate what is real and in the present, and what is a memory that may or may not have happened. Or is the past a memory game that the players feed off each other and embellish on? It’s not enough to listen to the dialogue; you have to constantly gaze at the shifting eyes and the staunch bodies lest you might miss a clue along the way." Full Review
"Initially the actors appear more interested in posing than in acting, but eventually they form a true ensemble...An enormous backdrop of concentric circles and an icy, door-like slab suggest a vest-pocket Valhalla more than an English country cottage. But the actors’ skillful by-play helps blot out the images, as do the thumping snatches of original music supplied by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke." Full Review
"If you’ve seen 'Old Times' before, and retain fond memories of its quiet creeping impact, Mr. Hodge’s flashy production may well irritate you...Though this is not an 'Old Times' for purists, it has its pleasures...I’ve seldom seen a cast so palpably enjoying delivering Pinter’s dialogue, even if it often here feels closer to Noël Coward...I’d love to see them have the chance to lower their voices, kick off their poses and make themselves more comfortably at home in this ever-discomfiting play." Full Review
"The work is blurry and up for grabs...The pleasures of the production come from watching three excellent actors confidently wind through the words, pauses and poses. Anna tells Deeley, 'You have a lovely casserole.' She means wife, but the mind and tongue play tricks. So does Pinter. It’s easy to get mixed up watching his puzzling stew, er, play. In the end, you’re somehow satisfied though you don’t know exactly what you’ve eaten." Full Review
"If the central conflict of 'Old Times' is a man trying to protect his wife from a predatory stranger, it has been diluted by uncertain acting choices...Despite overdetermined design and asymmetrical performances, Pinter’s precise, lyrical language comes through with crystalized, cutting force. Nothing here feels old; the blood flows freshly from new wounds." Full Review
"The play was not without its merits...The dialogue had moments of entertaining word play. Under Douglas Hodge’s direction, the usual long Pinter silences were virtually absent...I just did not find the competing memories that involving. Under better circumstances, I might have enjoyed it more. In my opinion, offering a 65-minute play at Broadway prices is pushing the limits." Full Review
"The test of any production of this enigmatic, talky 70-minute one-act is whether it keeps you engaged, and Douglas Hodge’s new production mostly does the trick...There’s little doubt that many theatergoers will be frustrated by the lack of a definite conclusion, and many will nod off more than here and there. But those who keep up with these 'Times' will be rewarded." Full Review
"The lack of comprehension isn’t the fault of this production, it’s the play’s...I won’t try to capture the elusive message here. No one has come up with any conclusions for decades and meanwhile, Pinter also was awarded Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for his enigmatic plays, so what do I know...? But I will tell you what I liked about this production. The performances are passionate. And the set!" Full Review
"On some levels the concept---and the high-energy, fast-paced performances that it demands---serves the play, but only in a limited way..This 'Old Times' has a certain superficiality to it, and that the menace they pose to one another over their respective claims on Kate’s life becomes muted...While this excursion to 'Old Times' never bores---and in fact can be quite entertaining and is viscerally stimulating---it never delivers an emotional punch." Full Review
See it if you want a sexy, puzzling rumination on love, marriage, power, and memory. And, of course, to drown in Clive Owen's smoldering charisma.
Don't see it if you dislike ambiguity.
See it if you want a play that requires a lot of thinking (during and after), you like Pinter, and you like interesting staging
Don't see it if you need a concrete explanation of what is happening during the play - the second act is inscrutable
See it if you love ambiguous Pinter plays, sexual tension, thrillers, confusion, Eve Best, Clive Owen, British people, arguing about endings afterward
Don't see it if you dislike thought-provoking, confusing mindfuckery.
See it if You don't mind possibly not knowing what's going on and loving it after you go home and read interpretations.
Don't see it if You don't want to turn your brain on. You don't like multiple interpretations.
See it if you like the actors. It was somewhat overacted (though I got the feeling it was directed to be so) but did hold your interest.
Don't see it if you expect it to make sense or resonate. The performers have chemistry but at the end you're just not sure they took you anywhere.
See it if You can appreciate an intense, three person play with a minimal stage and a lot of nuance.
Don't see it if You have problems concentrating as this play requires your focus and will be very confusing if you're not paying attention.
See it if you like a serious, thinking-required, heavy plays. Also see it if you enjoy quality staging, movement, & acting.
Don't see it if you want a clear cut plot & an easy going theater experience.
See it if want to see a little more than an hour of sexual tension and wonderful acting. Memory and time play another character. Short - interesting.
Don't see it if You don't want to think. Probably many different take-aways from audience members, but at least you'll spend time figuring it out.
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