Review: Old Times by Harold Pinter at the Harold Pinter Theatre London

By Paola Bassanese


It’s official: Kirstin Scott Thomas is a goddess. But you knew that already.


In what I would describe as a formal, suffocating and somewhat over-acted production of Old Times, Scott-Thomas as Anna was seductive and totally hypnotic in her performance at the Harold Pinter Theatre, formerly the Comedy Theatre, in the London West End.


The play dates from 1971 however it is still relevant today: three people who moved from London and all its excitement to the countryside or abroad look back to the good old times when they were young, broke and easily entertained. This resonates with anyone who has made that move: on the one hand, one looks back at their life missing that freshness of young age, while on the other  hand one tends to over-emphasise the validity of one’s choice of moving away to lead a quieter life.


As I got myself torticollis trying to see the stage from the nosebleed seats, my view obstructed by audience members exceedingly taller than me, I was “stalking” Scott Thomas with my eyes, hungry for glamour and her stage presence.


The description of the play on the London Theatreland’s website says “Kristin Scott Thomas, Rufus Sewell and Lia Williams star in Pinter’s darkly erotic drama.” The eroticism was nowhere to be found, as it was drowned in a mixture of comedy and staccato delivery.


The acting, I found, was somewhat over-projected and I found that affectation very distracting, but that’s just me, because I prefer natural acting that will suspend disbelief thus engaging the audience. I could sense that most of the audience was made of Pinter fans who laughed in a timely fashion in all the right places showing exquisite appreciation of Pinter’s writing.