Wednesday, March 13, 2013

theatre notes. Pinter, again. London edition.

A few nights ago, two friends and I headed to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London to see Pinter's Old Times. It was the long-awaited highlight of a much-anticipated trip, several months in the planning. Pinter is one of my favorite playwrights, and this is one of my favorite of his plays, and when I heard that its run coincided with our trip, naturally I had to see it. That two of my favorite actors, Rufus Sewell and Kristin Scott Thomas, were starring, was of course only a minor factor.

Old Times is one of Pinter's 'memory' plays, and I can't pretend to understand it any more upon the third viewing than I did the first time around. The one thing I see more clearly is how much depends on vision and interpretation. The choices made by this director and these actors are subtly different from those made by the previous directors and actors; this is how it should be. The playwright can only give so many clues to what he intends, and the rest is up to us. What *really* is happening in this story between Kate, Deely, and Anna is never clear to me. Perhaps it never will be, no matter how many times I see this play.

Memory, as Pinter shows us time and time again in his plays, is a trickster, a fickle, ephemeral creature. It is something created, imagined, imposed, reinvented according to our desires. No two people ever remember the same thing in the same way; we can't even be sure that our own memories are real or made up. This time around I began to wonder if one or two or all three characters were dead, and they were locked in the afterlife as in Sartre's No Exit. It could be true, couldn't it?

Maybe I need to see it again.

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