Acclaimed playwright Harold Pinter’s very own brand of morbidly funny and deliciously weird is coming to Østerbro next week, when Ian Burns of That Theatre Company and Sue Hansen-Styles and Angela Heath-Larsen of Why Not Theatre Company join forces to present Old Times, an erotic and hauntingly surreal play that explores the unstable nature of memory.
“The past is what you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend you remember,” said Pinter himself, so what happens when you can’t distinguish between the aforementioned anymore?
Kate and Deeley have been married for the past 20 years, but their rural tranquillity is interrupted when Anna, Kate’s long-time (and somewhat long-lost) friend with whom she shared a room and a bohemian London lifestyle in her 20s, shows up for a visit. Anna, who clearly harbours a love for Kate to match that of her husband’s, and Deeley engage in a battle to posses Kate, armed only with their memories and their love.
Reumert Award-winning director Barry McKenna, who just finished an excellent run of Calendar Girls with the Copenhagen Theatre Circle, first tackled Pinter in ‘82, when he played the part of Aston in The Caretaker. Since then he has directed both Pinter’s The Room and Celebration, but feels that there is something specific to Old Times that truly resonates with audiences.
“There is something far greater in this text than I have experienced before,” he told the Copenhagen Post. “The plot of (ital.) Old Times seems to hark back to the dawn of time and the forces of man and woman. Man against woman, woman against man, woman joined to woman uniting with man to engender continuance of nature, of order and of life. Deeley, Anna and Kate represent the forces that are embodied in the greatest of Greek tragedies. The play itself is a ritual that must be carried out by these three people in order to avoid chaos.”
The beauty of Pinter’s enigmatic writing is that each interpretation delivers a wildly different play – from metaphysical Murakami-esque surrealism to the nitty-gritty realism of human emotions and motivations. Where McKenna plans to take his audience remains to be seen.
That Theatre’s leading laddie Burns, meanwhile, is excited at the prospect of teaming up with the lassies from Why Not Theatre Company, who followed up on the standout success of their 2011 production of Vita and Virginia (InOut’s favourite English-language production of that year) with a sexy, imaginative staging of Desdemona in the spring.
“As far as working with Sue and Angela is concerned that’s something that’s been on the cards for a while,” Burns tells InOut. “This play has given us the opportunity of collaborating on something we all felt was brilliant and a good vehicle for us as actors to get our teeth into.”
McKenna, who has directed several productions for each theatre group, also welcomed the co-operation.
“The actors fell upon the material and devoured it rather like actors fall upon a buffet at an end of the run party (or indeed at any function!)” McKenna boasted of his actors.
“There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened. There are things I remember which may never have happened but as I recall them so they take place.” So read the most famous lines from Old Times, and you need only to have misplaced your car keys to know that this statement is undeniably true.
Krudttønden, Serrdslevvej 2, Cph Ø;
starts Wed, ends Nov 24, performances Mon-Fri 20:00, Sat 17:00;