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January 21, 1983 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-01-21
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Old Times
Michigan Ensemble Theater
New Trueblood Arena
8 p.m. January 26-30, February 16-
19, 2 p.m., February 20
By Jeff Manning
NOW THAT January nears an end,
the hectic confusion of university
life subsides and bookstores once again
become safe places and some of us can
find that precious stuff called leisure
time. So what does that mean for Joe
Theatergoer? Surely, the first wave of
independent drama productions! One of
the year's first is Old Times by Harold
Pinter, whose plays haven't seen an-
Ann Arbor audience in quite a while.
The show is produced by the
Michigan Ensemble Theater, the
University's residential professional
theater company, who are also respon-
sible for Diary of a Madman. The direc-
tor, a faculty member in the Theater
Department, is Richard Burgwin, who
directed The Tempest last month.
The cast, composed of a mere three
characters, consists of Marie Cham-
bers as Anna, Wanda Brimson as Kate,
and Chris Curry ds Deeley. Chambers,
presently on the University faculty, has
been working for the ACT Company in
San Francisco. Wanda Brimson, a
Michigan alumnus, worked in New
York recently. She has acted in many of
the major regional theaters and
alongside some big name people such as
(gasp!) Katherine Hepburn. Chris
Curry, another alumnus, has just
returned from Broadway where he
played in Krucifur. This play promises
to be a',polished professional produc-
The playwright, Harold Pinter, one of
the great authors of modern drama,

wrote Old Times in 1971 and the Royal
Shakespeare Company first produced
the show the same year. The -script
vaguely resembles the works of Samuel
Beckett, who was one of Pinter's major
influences, among Chekhov and a score
of others.
But the play is uniquely Pinterian,
drawing on his characteristic themes of
dominance and possession. Pinter
gained popularity for writing about
people being attacked by the terrifying
forces that surround them.
True to his style, Pinter blends humor
with stark dialogue in Old Times to
produce a mounting tension verging on
action. But the lack of words is equally
essential to Pinter's show. The man
himself once said, "So often below the
words spoken is the thing known, but
unspoken. I think we communicate all
too well in our silences." Thus, Old
Times requires extremely delicate
execution. Director Burgwin said the
production involves "patient attention
to detail and textual analysis."
If Oscar Wilde is correct in saying
that art is the act of creating a mood,
then Old Times ranks among the best of
modern drama. As in Canterbury Loft's
recent production of Equus, Old Times'
foundation rests largely upon tension
and rivalry between characters. There
are Deeley and Kate, a couple in their
early forties, who are visited at their
secluded farmhouse by Kate's old
roommate, Anna. They talk (as expec-
ted) of "old times" in post-war London
when the two women lived together and
Deeley had just met Kate. But what en-
sues is not a happy reminiscence bet-
ween friends.
The memories of Anna and Deeley
are not coincident - each competes to
assert their own remembrance, regar-
dless of the truth. The prize in this bat-
tle of mental assault is possession over
Kate. The result is a 'mysterious, in-
triguing, and provocative play, leaving
much open to audience interpretation"
says Burgwin.
So if any of that leisure time happens
to blow your way, mosey your way on
over to the Trueblood Theater in the
Frieze Building and watch Anna, Kate,
and Deeley recount their memories.
They'll help you get by for a while.


Old Times: Old friends
12 Weekend/January 21, 1983

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