Friday, May 15, 2009

Terry Teachout's Wall Street Journal Review of Old Times


Time was when Harold Pinter's shorthand dialogue struck most people as impenetrably mysterious -- and times, truth to tell, haven't changed all that much. Yet his best plays continue to make a powerful impression, and "Old Times," first seen on Broadway in 1971, has even become something of a regional-theater staple in recent years, partly because it can be produced so cheaply (three actors, one simple set) and partly because it's so theatrically effective. Pinter never wrote anything more potent than the enigmatic story of Deeley and Kate, an uneasily married couple whose life is disrupted by a visit from Anna, who knew Kate 20 years ago and appears (or maybe not) to have been romantically involved with her. Remy Bumppo Theatre, one of my favorite Chicago companies, is presenting this icy sparring match in an exceptionally satisfying production that has been staged with surgical skill by James Bohnen, the company's artistic director. Nick Sandys, Jenny McKnight and Linda Gillum all give tightly coiled performances that keep the tension rising all the way from curtain to curtain.

Mr. Teachout, the Journal's drama critic, blogs about theater and the other arts at Write to him at

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