Reviewed By Nicholas Linnehan
In trying times, which this is one of them, where does the artist belong? Uprooted by political turmoil, the need for art in all its forms can seem moot. But it is precisely times like these, where the world needs its artists to remind them of humanity and the increasing need for love, tolerance, and empathy. Thus, I applaud The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory’s production of Old Times by Harold Pinter. The show is fraught with deep emotional anguish that keeps us captivated for most of the time.
Why is it so hard to forget the people in our past? Do the imprints they leave on us ever go away? These questions boil to the top when Anna drops in on Kate and Kate’s husband Deeley. Kate and Anna were roommates some 20 years ago and have not seen each other since. But just how close were they and what lines might they have crossed? We are never quite sure, but one thing is for sure Deeley is immensely jealous of their relationship and a little turned on by it. Kate does not say much as the other two feud over here and she is cleverly ambiguous about her feelings towards either them. When she does speak, there is an intensity about her that makes us wonder what is underneath her surface. As the love triangle unfolds throughout the play, the web we are in grows more and more entangled.
At first, it is a challenge to get into the rhythm of the piece. There are many long pauses and ackward stares. The language is a bit archaic (after all this is an old play written about 50 years ago). But then the magic of theater happens and we become invested in the characters and what’s not being said is far more interesting than any spoken language. Katarina Vizina does a nice job playing the brooding Kate. She is like an onion (although far better smelling, I’m sure) giving us layer upon layer of profound emotional life. Phillip O’Gorman is as equally compelling as Deeley. We are never quite sure whether he’s more aroused or furious by the two ladies questionable relationship. He touts this line nicely and we are intrigued by his performance. Danielle Shimshoni is fiery as Anna and clearly longs for the closeness (whatever it was) that Kate and she had. Shimshoni is the catalyst and plays it well.
Brilliantly directed by Cristopher Martin. He doesn’t miss an ounce of the dramatic tension in the play and helps bring it to life! It you want bells and whistles, dont go see this play. But if you desire, subtle nuanced performances given by true craftsmen than you’ll enjoy Old Times.
Old Times plays at The Alchemical Laboratory 104 W 14th St. through December 11th.