NEW YORK (AP) - That Thom Yorke is the first from the creative team to greet you at the new revival of “Old Time” is the first indication you’re in for an unsettling show.
The Radiohead frontman has written and recorded the creepy incidental music that haunts the American Airlines Theatre as it fills with Harold Pinter fans.
Ghostly and weird, Yorke’s falsetto and atmospheric synth resemble a rave of tortured souls in a churchyard. That’s fitting for the three characters we’re soon to meet.
Married couple Deeley and Kate have invited Kate’s best friend, Anna, over for dinner, the first time the women have seen each other in 20 years. It is autumn. A nice casserole has been cooked.
But, this being a Pinter play, the ground soon shifts - literally as Christine Jones’ handsome turntable set moves. The two estranged women turn out to be a bit cool to each other. Plus, Anna and Deeley may have had a past intimate connection as well. And, maybe, Anna and Kate may have been more than just friends. Is one of these people just a memory? Maybe.
There’s lots of lounging around, staring at each other and trying to repress the bubbling longings beneath the polite chitchat. This is a play where crossing or uncrossing one’s legs is fraught with meaning. It is as hard to grasp as the cigarette smoke.
“There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened,” says Anna. “There are things I remember which may never have happened but as I recall them so they take place.”
Clive Owen makes his Broadway debut with jaunty menace in this Roundabout Theatre Company production opposite the British actresses Eve Best and Kelly Reilly, both lovely and enigmatic and ferociously elegant in not-so-retro costumes by Constance Hoffman.
Owen’s edgy, masculine charm and absurdist sense of humor are on show and Best, as Anna, is completely believable as the object of lust for at least one of her dinner companions. Reilly has less script to work with and so often must communicate her uneasy marriage and unburied past with just soulful eyes and by pivoting her body.
The set consists of a comfy, modernist chair and two nicely designed lounge chairs. Everything is rather horizontal except for a multi-use slab in the center of the living room. It functions as a mirror, a window and a shower. It looks like a block of ice, a metaphor for this chilly drama.
Douglas Hodge, a frequent performer and director of Pinter’s works, lets this 1971 play flow effortlessly through its currents and eddies, allowing each character to have a few funny moments, a loud freak out and then slip back into half-somnolence.
A little more than an hour after it started, the play is over, as it began, with three slumped figures, filled with brandy but no casserole, and plenty left unsaid.
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