Sunday, April 01, 2007


Okay - it's been busy - articles in Halifax/radio interviews etc, but now the REVIEWS are in!!!

From Halifax for Lenore ZANN - OLD TIMES...and while the article is somewhat hard on the play - a heads up for our LENORE!!!


Last updated at 7:57 AM on 01/04/07

Neptune's Old Times misses mark
But Pinter play worth seeing for writer's extraordinary style


Old Times by Harold Pinter. Directed by Brian Richmond at Neptune's Studio Theatre until April 15.

Rating: ***II

Harold Pinter's 1971 play Old Times - acclaimed by the playwright's biographer and theatre critic Michael Billington as Pinter's best work - unfolds on Neptune's Studio stage as a curiously overdone three-hander.

The Nobel Prize-winning author's signature fractured minimalism has been ignored by Neptune's cast and crew, making for a busy production. With film projections, a double set and out-of-place overacting, the point of the play seems lost on the production team.

Pinter's wisp of a scenario revolves around a middle-aged woman who visits an old friend and her husband in the English countryside at the end of the 1960s. They reminisce about their "old times" of 20 years ago; the memories, however, threaten to overwhelm the couple's rather tentative present- day relationship.

The playwright's dialogue consists of epigrammatic outbursts, occasionally 3/4ushed out with longer remembrances that make the friends' sense of nostalgia seem slightly curdled.

It's a marvellous play, but Neptune's staging devices get in the way of Pinter's precise and forceful dialogue.

Projecting large portions of the Carol Reed/James Mason 1947 Irish assassination thriller Odd Man Out - which the characters talk about seeing in the cinema in both the first and second acts - is far too over-the-top for Pinter's austere three-person play. Speeding up and slowing down the film only makes the situation worse.

The bizarre mini-set at the edge of the stage is even more out of place. Consisting of a small doll house and a line of trees, it twists the visual perspective of the larger set.

Designer Elli Bunton has far more success with her late modernist furniture and exposed yellow brick backgrounds that perfectly prepare the audience for the tone of Pinter's verbal dynamics.

Perhaps the most wayward choices for the play are the wrong-headed acting styles of Ruth Madoc-Jones and Dan Lett.

Neither seems to know what the play is about. Madoc-Jones's Kate seems confused and zombie-like; Lett's light comic touch - so effective in the Halifax-made TV series Made In Canada - takes Pinter's choppy dialogue far too close to the world of Monty Python.

Only Lenore Zann - as the old friend and guest Anna - seems to understand the dangerous nature of memory. Her nostalgia is loaded with threat, regret and desire, tightly disguised in the veneer of honeyed remembrances.

Still, if director Brian Richmond has misinterpreted Pinter's intentions, Old Times is still worth catching for the playwright's extraordinary compressed verbal style. If Billington is right and this is the best play from one of the world's most important playwrights, then practically any production of Old Times is going to rate as essential theatre.