Pendle Borderline Theatre Company's take on a modern Pinter classic is a real triumph

Yvonne Bolton, Lesley Playfer and Richard Holley, who are starring in Harold Pinter's Old Times at The Colne Muni this week. (s)
Yvonne Bolton, Lesley Playfer and Richard Holley, who are starring in Harold Pinter's Old Times at The Colne Muni this week. (s)
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If you’re looking for a thrilling show which will keep you guessing all evening long, then Pendle Borderline Theatre Company’s rendtion of a modern classic is the one for you.

This three-man production written by a Nobel Laureate playwright fuses comedy and intrigue for an entertaining but puzzling show which will keep audiences on their toes.

Director Richard MacSween has assembled a strong and experienced cast to take on Harold Pinter’s Old Times, and has put together a stylish show which runs until Saturday at The Muni Theatre in Colne.

It follows an evening in the lives of married couple Kate and Deeley as they host a dinner for Kate’s old flatmate, Anna, with whom she lived as a young woman in London more than 20 years ago.

But darkness lurks beneath their witty conversation, and as the brandy flows and they reminiscence on old times cavorting around London, an ominous past returns to haunt them.

Director Richard has created an intimate set-up at The Muni Theatre, removing the stage and seating audiences to each side of the characters, to powerful effect.

We were vividly transported to the living room of Kate and Deeley’s home, with the production zooming in on all emotion and conflict.

Positioned close enough to smell the trio’s cigarette smoke, the audience could taste all the more intensely their sense of inescapable dread and powerlessness.

This challenging play therefore needs highly skilled actors: and Richard’s cast were simply triumphant.

Lesley Playfer demonstrated fantastic control and insight into the enigmatic Kate, who says very little but is described in detail by Anna and Deeley as something akin to a beautiful painting whose meaning, they seemed to argue, only they as individuals could access.

Yet while Anna and Deeley paint Kate as someone who is passive, Lesley brought a striking palette of colour to her character, filling her in with light and shade.

Yvonne Bolton was fascinating as Anna, oozing charisma and vibrancy, with menacing undertones, while skilfully teasing out her fear and vulnerability.

Richard Holley, who stars as Deeley, gave a confident and idiosyncratic performance, bringing to life a character who is amusing yet bizarre but always interesting.

Old Times is a cryptic show which commands every moment of your attention, raising more questions than it answers.

It’s certainly a sign of terrific writing - and acting - when audience members have so many different feelings about the characters at once.

Old Times is no exception: I was pulled across the emotional spectrum, feeling amused, fascinated, uncomfortable, concerned and frightened yet sympathetic towards all three characters.

Prepare to be battered by a flood of emotions. You might leave the theatre feeling confused but you’ll certainly be highly entertained the whole show through.

Performances run tonight to Saturday at 7-30pm nightly.

Tickets: £7 in advance; £9 on the door; www.themuni.co.uk; 01282 661234.