By Sabrina Carroll
Elm Staff Writer
“Old Times,” a play by Harold Pinter, was performed at Washington College in Tawes Theatre from Oct. 2 to 5, opening up the fall semester’s Drama productions.
Pinter, heavily influenced by his life during The Great Depression and World War II, was known for writing “comedies of menace,” or basic plays with twisted and dark meanings.
“Old Times” starred junior Liza Conover, senior Austin Lewis, and sophomore Olivia Serio and was directed by Assistant Professor of Drama Brendon Fox.
The play is about a married couple of 20 years, Kate and Deeley, played by Conover and Lewis, respectively. Kate’s best friend Anna, played by Serio, comes to their home after a long period of absence.
“It was about three people who may look calm on the surface but are anything but underneath,” said Fox.
The play develops into a game of “tug-of-war” between Anna and Deeley over Kate. As Anna and Deeley try to one-up each other with their respective relationships to Kate, eerie plot twists are unveiled. Underneath the plot of the story, many themes are present.
Fox shared some of these themes. He said jealousy, sexual tension, and secrets were only a few of many. “One of the major ideas I explored with the cast and designers is the idea of memories being more slippery than we think they are – especially the farther back in time we go.”
According to Fox, as these themes arise the audience is left with many questions, including the concept of memory. He said, a question one may ask during or after seeing the play is whether, “we really remember accurately what happened 10 or more years ago.”
Michele Volansky, chair and associate professor of Drama, added to these questions in a recent Kent County News article, questioning “How well can you trust your significant other? Your best friend?” The answers were discovered in the production Volansky called “stylistically engaging and thematically dangerous.”
When asked what it was like to work with the cast and crew, Fox was nothing but positive. “The cast, designers, stage manager, and crew were wonderful to work with,” he said. “The design team was an eclectic mix of guest artists from out of town, faculty members, and a Washington College alum.”
Lewis was in agreement. He said, “They were all so agreeable and interested in making the show the best it could be. Oh, and don’t get me started about how hard-working they were. ”
“Old Times” was a production very different from anything WC had ever seen in the simplicity of the play. “The play didn’t need a big set, lots of costume changes, or many sound cues. It’s like a great piece of music that has as much intense silence as there are notes on the page,” said Fox. “Our challenge was to find a design and a style of acting that was powerful, strong, and also simple.”
Lewis said, “I think “Old Times” is so different from other shows that WC has put up since I’ve been here because there is so much emphasis put on the silence present in the show. It’s very different and a very jarring experience compared to most media we experience today.”
This production was just one of many, and it sets the stage for the upcoming plays.