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‘Old Times’ delivers solid, new vision

Deeley (John Henry Roberts) Ann(MichaelPetro) Kate (Abigail Boucher) share many mysteries “Old Times.”

Deeley (John Henry Roberts), Anna (Michaela Petro) and Kate (Abigail Boucher) share many mysteries in “Old Times.”

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◆ Through Nov. 12

◆ Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway

◆ Tickets, $28

◆ (866) 811-4111;


Updated: January 23, 2012 3:19AM

In “Old Times,” his compellingly elusive tale of a triangulated erotic relationship, Harold Pinter, the late Nobel Prize-winning British dramatist, brilliantly played both sides against an ever-shifting middle. And inside of 80 airtight minutes he created an exceedingly tense, fascinatingly opaque, invariably unreliable picture of what did or did not go on among three people 20 years earlier, what might or might not have been going on in the interim, and what is certainly going on among and between them now.

The possible permutations of the one man and two women in his story are manifold. The Rashomon effect is definitely in play. The language is biting, clever, crystalline, wounding.

For her riveting Strawdog Theatre Company revival of this 1971 Pinter classic, director Kimberly Senior has tapped the talents of two extraordinary young actresses wholly new to me — Abigail Boucher (as Kate) and Michaela Petro (as Anna) — and paired them with veteran Strawdog actor John Henry Roberts (as Deeley). The result is a subtle yet incendiary rendering of what is quite the psycho-sexual power game, complete with time-warped resentments.

The story unspools in the remote English seaside home of the long-married Deeley, and his blond, somewhat passive-seeming wife, Kate. Enter the visiting Anna, a dark and dangerous vamp who is married to a wealthy man and living on the island of Sicily. She and Kate were best friends and roommates in London when they were young, broke, racing off to the theater and galleries, and hanging out in arty cafes in search of the attention of sensitive, accomplished, interesting men.

The women, though quite different, were certainly competitors on some level, and perhaps even lovers. And Deeley may have seduced, abandoned and/or cheated on one or both of them at various times back then — or subsequently, or now. All three are in the dark some of the time, with one always feeling like the outsider. The pain and jealousy are palpable.

As Anna, Petro, dressed in an angular black sheath dress, and with cheekbones to match, initially seems to dominate with her controlled volatility and vampire-like ways. But then the powdery Boucher emerges from her offstage bath in a pink silk robe and begins to wipe her opponent off the map. Roberts, oddly boyish yet drawn, is the opportunist and rat. But nobody in this play (expertly designed by Mike Mroch, Aly Renee Amidei, Sean Mallary and Christopher Kriz) is quite who or what they appear to be at first glance.

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