Review: Old Times

By John Nathan, February 7, 2013
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Harold Pinter Theatre, London SW1

Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams. Photo: Simon Annand

Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams. Photo: Simon Annand

Apparently, there is good reason to take up the offer to see Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams alternate in the roles of Anna and Kate. It is said that hidden nuances in Pinter’s 1971 play are revealed. I’m not convinced they are worth the price of two tickets but then, I have seen only one version.

I do, however, feel lucky to have seen Scott Thomas in the role of Anne, Kate’s brassy, flirty old friend who visits the married couple and becomes embroiled in the power games played by Kate’s husband, Deeley (Rufus Sewell).

I never thought the relentlessly elegant Scott Thomas had it in her to be so deliciously vulgar. I’m guessing neither did she. Lia Williams, meanwhile, serenely underplays Kate while Sewell’s Deeley is hilariously playful one moment and scarily bullying the next.

But the revelation is Scott Thomas who brings to mind Alison Steadman’s Beverly in Abigail’s Party. Come to think of it, this is a nuance revealed by Ian Rickson’s tense production — that Mike Leigh’s 1977 play could be rooted in Pinter’s. (www.oldtimestheplay.com)

Last updated: 11:44am, February 7 2013