Old Times is classic Harold Pinter. Enigmatic, confusing, full of silences. Beautiful, strange and unsatisfying.
I read Old Times this morning and, if I had time, I’d read it again right now. First impressions are way too vague with Pinter. This is the sort of play you need to study, line by line, to come up with interpretations.
But, because of this play a day deadline, you’re going to be stuck with my first impressions.
Why are so many of Pinter’s women floating, disempowered and objects rather than subjects?
In this play, Kate says “You talk about me as if I were dead” and the other characters continue to do just that, raising the interesting question of whether she is actually dead, or perhaps this is all happening in her imagination.
What we see on stage is three actors talking. Two of them appear to be a couple, married for a long time but knowing surprisingly little about each other. The third might be an old friend of the wife’s.
It’s a play about memories and about interpretation. We never know whose memories are real, if any of them are.
There’s also humour:
ANNA: You have a wonderful casserole.
ANNA: I mean wife. So sorry. A wonderful wife.
DEELEY: There was a great argument going on, about China or something, or death, or China and death, I can’t remember which, but nobody but I had a thigh-kissing view, nobody but you had the thighs which kissed. And here you are. Same woman. Same thighs.
It’s nice to read a Pinter where there are more women in the cast than men, even if one of them floats like a balloon, batted to and fro across the stage by the other characters.
Publisher: Methuen & Co.
Cast: 2 F, 1 M