“Old Times” by Harold Pinter

It’s not often that you go to a theatrical production, can’t figure out what the play means, and yet adore the experience, knowing that it won’t soon leave you, that you will think about it, puzzle it out, and be rewarded by it long after the lights go out and the cast takes their bows. That’s what it’s like to attend a Pinter play. He presents his audience with a situation. Much about it appears to be bizarre, almost unfathomable. But it’s compelling, it’s speaking to you on some deep level, and, if it’s well produced, it’s theatre at its best.

Director Victor Pappas’s “Old Times” at ACT is such a production. Three excellent actors ideally costumed for their roles play memory games with one another as we the audience laugh at the subtle humor, puzzle over their relationship, and admire the rhythmic flow of words and action. Through their jousts, their silences, their languid or somewhat vexed movements, through their frustrations and their puzzlement, we sense something universal yet very personal.

The beautiful Cheyenne Casebier as the restrained Kate and her handsome husband Deeley (Jeffrey Fracé) wait in their contemporary home by the sea for a visit from Kate’s old friend Anna (the steely Anne Allgood). Anna’s actually already there, but only we, the audience members, know it.

She may be the only friend Kate has ever had. She may be a woman Deeley knows from the past. Maybe she’s Kate’s former lesbian lover. Or is she simply another aspect of Kate’s persona. Any of those could be possible, maybe more than one.

It doesn’t really matter exactly where the truth lies. There are many truths, in all lives, in all societies. Pinter helps us see these ambiguities and absurdities. And in this play ACT certainly captures Pinter’s richness.

Through Aug. 25 at ACT, 700 Union St., Seattle (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org)

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