Countless theories proliferate in response to David Lynch’s films.
A sublime production of Harold Pinter’s Old Times is entering into its last week at the Harold Pinter Theatre. The play – consisting of only three characters, played by Rufus Sewell, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Lia Williams – is difficult to follow. Actually, that is an understatement.
It runs for an hour and a half – without interval – and demands the constant, unremitting attention of the audience. As the narrative veers between the past and present, the relationships between the characters become ever more convolute. The past pushes up through the seam of the present; linear time is abandoned and replaced with chronological muddle. The mysteries of the present are, it would seem, only explicable by the events of the past, and as the characters recall and retell their memories from their youth, the audience trusts that all will become clear, all revealed. That is the usual form a mystery takes. But not so here. The director’s (Ian Rickson) decision to cast the two female leads as both female characters, alternating which role they play according to the night, is surely emphatic of the dynamics of convergence and divergence that characterise the relationships in this play. Critics have heartily recommended that the keen audience member books tickets for two performances to experience this role reversal. It is unlikely, however, that a second viewing will clear up any of the residual ambiguities and unanswered questions hanging over from the first. This play is tenaciously enigmatic.