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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 24 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 34
Old Times: Pure Pinter at ACT
Arts & Entertainment
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Old Times: Pure Pinter at ACT

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

OLD TIMES
ACT THEATRE
Through August 26


ACT opened two more Pinter plays this week, adding to the panoply of Pinter plenty accessible during this one-of-a-kind opportunity to steep yourself in all things Harold. Two full-length productions, Old Times and No Man's Land, play only a couple of weekends, so you'll have to move fast to take one or the other in.

Old Times is pure Pinter in its spare language, quixotic silences, and layered meanings. On the surface, a married couple is visited by the wife's old friend. Twenty years have gone by, so there is a lot of catching up to do. There's also some tension and competition between the friend and the husband.

Just underneath, though, is a layer of jealousy and anxiety over whether the wife is more emotionally connected to one than the other. And even deeper, there is an exploration, poetic at times, of memory and how real it is - how it can so easily be invented.

Though Pinter debuted this play in 1971, we know so much more about memory now, as scientists have learned how easy it is to trick the mind into "remembering" something that never happened. Here, he has the friend rattle on and on about "how things used to be," while the wife says she can barely even remember the friendship, even while acknowledging that the two used to be roommates.

Jeffrey Frace plays Deeley, the husband who appears devoted to his wife, Kate (Cheyenne Casebier), but somehow is threatened by the appearance of Anna (Anne Allgood). The three pace around the elegant living room (designed by Robert Dahlstrom) or sit on castered settees ("We sleep here. We can move them into any position - they're on wheels!") and sip coffee (with or without cream and sugar) in unsettled silences.

Director Victor Pappas finds the right rhythm for the piece. The beginning is light and humorous, with a bit of teasing between husband and wife. The anticipation is mild and the atmosphere more curious than tense.

The whirlwind of energy of Allgood and the tennis-match volleying of Frace is paired with the intense stillness of Casebier's Kate. Kate almost never even reacts to their blasts of emotion, perhaps causing them to try even harder to reach her.

As the evening goes on, undertones of eroticism and competition deepen and the humor ebbs. Even a funny moment, the singing of romantic songs by Deeley and Anna toward Kate, gets more and more tense. Later, Deeley and Anna relate stories that intertwine with each other. They remember each other, right at the time he was getting to know Kate.

However, we really don't know what is true and what isn't. The audience is left to decipher that at the end. Maybe it will cause you to think about your own memories and wonder whether you've embellished any.

For more information, go to www.acttheatre.org or call (206) 292-7676.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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'We all have Winterlings'
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Frenchie Davis goes all out
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VELO for victory
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Kenny Loggins proves his staying power
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A Dyke About Town: Rory Block: Nice country blues at Triple Door
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A magical Illusion - Sound Theatre scores with one of Tony Kushner's lesser-known works
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Old Times: Pure Pinter at ACT
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Huge Support for Chick-fil-A Day
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Hypnotic Cosmopolis a descent into Cronenberg madness
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Ill-fated Sparkle hopelessly out of tune
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Joss Stone returning to Seattle next month
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