Old Times @ Adelaide Festival Centre Review

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Old Times @ Adelaide Festival Centre Old Times @ Adelaide Festival Centre

Three characters and a single room; this is the concept behind Pinter’s famous play ‘The Caretaker’ and his lesser-known play ‘Old Times’.


Theatre snobs, when speaking of the latter, will often cluck their tongues and remark it isn’t Pinter’s “best work”. It is true ‘Old Times’ is perhaps less easily accessible than more popular works, because it lacks an explicit and coherent narrative. While it may not be clear where the play is set and who the characters are, it is what they say that really matters.

As a writer of dialogue, Harold Pinter can be compared to Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino can make bank robbers having a conversation around a coffee table more exciting than the bank robbery itself. Pinter is the same. While you can certainly develope your own theories about what unfolds onstage, the sizzling one liners and impassioned monologues by the cast of Rachel Wegener, Marc Clement and Charlotte Rose are more interesting. The 75-page script is churned through in 60 minutes; a cracking pace reminiscent of a hip-hop album. It isn’t until the crazy ride comes to a halt you can begin to ponder what on earth took place.

Given the ambiguity inherent within the text of the play, accomplished Director Tony Knight faced many challenges in bringing the piece to life. Day 1 of Acting 101 will inevitably instruct students of the craft to ask 'who is my character and why are they there?' The trio comprised this particular cast really only knew one thing: their character was seeking power or control over the other two. But they didn’t know the who or why.

With such uncertainty at the heart of the action, how do you determine whether it has been delivered successfully?

The Mystique Productions and Tony Knight Acting production engaged for every moment on stage but more importantly triggered internal reflection for days afterwards; a success in any language.

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