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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

‘Old Times’ Brings New Dimension to APT

Theater Review

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Angularity, austerity and pauses so pregnant with meaning that the suppressed emotion nearly puddles at the actors' feet: Such is the stuff of which Harold Pinter's plays are made. American Players Theatre's production of Pinter's Old Times, which opened at the Spring Green company's new Touchstone Theatre this month, follows the same pattern, bringing a new dimension to the APT experience.

Directed by the Milwaukee Rep's Laura Gordon, Old Times focuses on an evening with Deeley (Jonathan Smoots, Gordon's husband) and Kate (Tracy Michelle Arnold), a couple who receive a visit from Kate's old college friend Anna (Carey Cannon). Almost immediately time and memory warp as the characters remember and relive experiences differently, engaging in a sometimes cruel dance that isolates each in his or her own turn. Repeated references to Odd Man Out, the 1947 British film noir classic, reinforces the obvious point.

Gordon holds a tight yet fluid rein on her actors, all of whom deliver intense and intensely different performances. Fans of APT's high-flown Shakespearean antics may find Old Times cerebral and unsettling, but the Touchstone's intimacy allows the actors to give subtler, nuanced performances. The result is a fascinating new fold in APT's dramatic fabric.

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