Old Times is a play about -- if we may be bold enough to "interpret" Harold Pinter -- memory. And having discovered this during the course of the play, the audience is asked to decide -- or give up trying and let the mood wash over us -- how much of what we're observing and what is being said is real. Among the three characters on the stage, whose recollections of events long passed are accurate or even vaguely true? Indeed, which characters are corporeal?
Let's accept that we are watching a married couple, Kate and Deeley, living in their converted-farmhouse-by-the-sea isolated home, as they are joined by the wife's former roommate from 20 years before, Anna. Each character engages in a power play, provocatively underscored by seething sexuality. As Deeley and Anna converse, we sense they've set up a contest to determine who is the most familiar with Kate.
Bringing the plays of Pinter alive on stage is obviously no easy trick. Finding a sense of mystery without being, in quotes, mysterious, is only one of many hurdles. If an American production decides to keep the setting in England, this demands that the characters be British in feel and sound. Here, director John Pleshette pulls a good "Pinterly" pace from his actors. They are appropriately British in accent (one actor is apparently English, one Australian), including a lower-middle-class one used by Dan Cowan as Deeley for an added layer of backstory. But not all is right with the look of the work.
Cecelia Specht's Kate is all glamorous sensuality, deliberately mysterious but just not intriguing. Unfortunately, also, Specht doesn't project; on the day reviewed either gusting winds or a noisy neighbor drowned out her dialogue. Of the three, Cowan best captures a period -- presumably the late 1960s here. As Anna, Cerris Morgan-Moyer is paradoxically lightly playful and quietly menacing; but she plays far too young to have been Anna's friend decades before.
The intermission in this 90-minute work also doesn't help support the setting of any mood.
Presented by and at the Lost Studio,
130 S. La Brea Ave., Hollywood.
Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. Mar.7-Apr. 13.
(800) 595-4849. www.tix.com.