Roundabout Theatre Company Production of Harold Pinter Play
This past week, Old Times had its official opening night on Broadway. It is presently scheduled to run for a limited engagement until November 29, 2015. Starring Clive Owen in his Broadway debut, this production also starred Kelly Reilly and Eve Best. It was directed by Douglas Hodge, for whom this is also a Broadway debut, but who has appeared twice on Broadway as an actor, as the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac (also a Roundabout production) and also in La Cage aux Folles (as the drag queen Albin). This play is one of Pinter’s finest, and it has enjoyed a recent revival in London where it received excellent reviews. In that production, the two female roles (Kate and Anna) were played interchangeably by the two actresses portraying them (Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams). That production, directed by Ian Rickson, played at the aptly named Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End in 2013. The Broadway premiere of Old Times took place in 1971, starring Robert Shaw, Rosemary Harris, and Mary Ure. All in all, Pinter is celebrated both in the United States and in the United Kingdom, his birthplace. Pinter won the Nobel Prize in 2005, and the French Legion d’honneur in 2007, prior to his death in 2008.
Upon attending a preview performance, Ben Brantey of The New York Times was taken aback by the amount of smoking taking place onstage during Old Times. He did admit that there was true emotional fire stirring beneath the smoke screen, but he was still distracted by the amount of cigarette puffing taking place during the show. David Cote from Time Out New York was also on the fence regarding the production, finding the already dark play overdone by the grim design and incidental music by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. On the other hand, Jeremy Gerard from Deadline was more in favor of the show, enjoying the simplicity of the show’s honest portrayal of the human enigma. Jesse Green from Vulture was more unsure, finding the play both cryptic and banal, and postulating that it has contracted over time rather than grown to encompass the space since it was written. However, Marilyn Stasio from Variety was more positive in her review of the production, finding it unmissable and enjoying the erotic games within the script, although she did question some of Douglas Hodge’s directorial choices, in particular by trimming the famously pregnant “Pinter” pauses.
Mediocre Box Office to Match Mixed Reviews
In the three and a half weeks of box office figures thus far reported, Old Times remains squarely in the range of mediocre. This past week, the week ending October 11, 2015, the show brought in a weekly gross of $356,649, which represents just 56.64% of its gross potential. Prior to that, the gross was just $12,265 less at the weekly figure of $344,384, representing 54.69% of gross potential. With a negligible change as well the week before that, it brought in just slightly more at a weekly gross of $358,413, representing 59.92% of gross potential. In the first partial week of five performances, the show brought in $233,302, representing a consistent 59.28% of gross potential. The average paid admission throughout these four weeks has fluctuated between $64.27 to $73.48, showing a fair amount of discounting. Still, the average audience capacity has not exceeded 90.5%, generally more in the range of 85%, showing that even with the built in subscriber base at Roundabout, there is less than overwhelming interest in this production at this stage.
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