Home / Music & Arts / Clive Owen confident in Broadway debut 'Old Times'

Clive Owen confident in Broadway debut 'Old Times'

L to r: Clive Owen, Eve Best, Kelly Reilly in "Old Times"

L to r: Clive Owen, Eve Best, Kelly Reilly in “Old Times”

The late, great Harold Pinter installed wall-to-wall ambiguity in his 1971 memory play “Old Times.” So it’s remarkable when a flash of clarity comes in the Roundabout’s stylized revival.

Seated in his living room, Deeley (Clive Owen), a filmmaker, suggestively manspreads. The randy action isn’t meant for his wife Kate (Kelly Reilly). It’s for Anna (Eve Best), a visitor from Kate’s, and, apparently, his past. No two ways about it, it’s a crotch-based “Hey, baby.” But exactly why Deeley does it and what it means remains unclear.

The rest of work is also blurry and up for grabs. At the end of 70 minutes you may wonder: Is Anna really a friend? Did Deeley actually look up Anna’s skirt when she was wearing Kate’s underwear? Is Anna a part of Kate that was lost when she wed? Is Anna dead? Is Kate? Are all three? And, moreover, why does the bathroom door in director Douglas Hodge’s staging look like a giant block of ice? What is this, Better Homes and Glaciers?

The answer to all of the above is who knows. And it’s only frustrating if you expect pat answers. That’s not how Pinter, a Nobel Laureate who died in 2008, rolled. Hodge, a Tony-winning actor, adds his own abstractions.

What's real, what's not? The play makes you wonder.

What’s real, what’s not? The play makes you wonder.

The pleasures of the production come from watching three excellent actors — two Broadway rookies — confidently wind through the words, pauses and poses. Owen (“The Knick”) works his craggy good looks and is alternately rogueish and vulnerable. Reilly (“True Detective”) looks the picture of pretty melancholy with her perennially pursed lips, but eventually reveals a sharp tongue. Best, a two-time Tony nominee who recalls a creamsicle with cleavage in her off-white jumpsuit, and lends sexiness, glamour and humor.

Anna tells Deeley, “You have a lovely casserole.” She means wife, but the mind and tongue play tricks. So does Pinter. It’s easy to get mixed up watching his puzzling stew, er, play. In the end, you’re somehow satisfied though you don’t know exactly what you’ve eaten.


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