OLD TIMES, Circle Theatre. The third local production in a little over a year of Harold Pinter's dark comedy comes closest to capturing without overstating the playwright's odd poetry, droll humor, and ominous tension. Pinter's portrait of a triangular relationship shows us Deeley, a middle-aged, self-satisfied filmmaker; Kate, his dissatisfied yet seemingly complacent wife; and Anna, Kate's onetime roommate and perhaps lover, who has come to visit her old friend after 20 years' separation. The trio's banal conversation stirs old memories, and perhaps invents new ones, as Deeley tries to suggest a sexual history for Anna and himself that never existed--or did it? And then his and Anna's competition for dominance in Kate's life crashes into Kate's unexpectedly disturbing perspective on the past.
Unlike Court Theatre's Kim Rubinstein last year and Pyewacket's Kerstin Broockmann this past fall, director Kay Martinovich lets Pinter's psychosexual innuendos remain perplexingly ambiguous, and she gives weight to Anna and Deeley's rivalry rather than trivializing it with comedy-of-manners archness. It's always clear what's happening--if, appropriately, not always why. Though Chuck Quinn doesn't quite convey the nagging need under Deeley's calm demeanor, Michele Messmer and Kristy Munden are excellent as Anna and Kate, the two women whose secret lives prove elusive to themselves as well as to onlookers. The well-chosen preshow music--selections from Bernard Herrmann's scores for Vertigo and other Hitchcock movies--reinforces Pinter's fascination with memory, illusion, and identity. --Albert Williams