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LA Theater Review

Old Times

Is there anything more fragile, more ephemeral, than memory? Even long-term memories, such as those involving old friends, can be easily distorted by time, distance, and circumstance to the point where authenticity becomes questionable. Playwright Harold Pinter is well-known for his recurring themes of time, memory, and menace, as well as the power struggles and tightly bottled emotions that often underlie and inform the situation at hand.

In this 1971 play, dusty memories of the past and those minted with every passing second in the present often bleed together. Deeley (the genial Theodore Stevens) and Kate (a cool, sophisticated Linda DeMetrick) are visited at their seaside farmhouse in England (sleek set design by Sebastian Milito) by Kate's old friend and former roommate, Anna (Maaren Edvard, engaging and reserved), whom they have not seen in 20 years. Over the course of the intermissionless 80-minute show, relationships fade, reappear, and mutate as a power play for Kate's heart and soul gradually ensues between her husband and their mysterious visitor.

Here we have classic Pinteresque drama: storytelling built upon sparse dialogue, pregnant pauses, suspicious glances, and threatening innuendo. Subtext is everything, and director Carmen Maria Milito keeps her actors playing it on a low simmer but with little variation. A bit more restrained intensity would have brought added dimension to the piece, which occasionally veers too close to uniformity. John Grant's slow dramatic fades and white-flash lighting give the impression of snapshots being taken of these assorted moments-snapshots that can be laid out in a photo album to tell one particular version of whatever the truth may be.

"There are some things one remembers, even though they may never have happened," Anna observes, thus proving Pinter's point that memory is malleable. Milito and company support that perception in this understated production, which ultimately leaves the final interpretation up to the viewing audience.

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