Old Times is categorized as one of the Harold Pinter’ “memory plays” that characterized his evolution and development in the 1970’s through a series of productions that took a step back from the more cerebral experimentation of the playwright’s earlier work which established his reputation. Old Times premiered in June 1971 at the Aldwych Theatre as a production of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
This was the first full length play to come from Pinter since his Tony-award winning 1965 megahit The Homecoming. The reviewers were doubtlessly reading to slice it to pieces after such an extended gap, but instead were almost universally won over. Old Times is a three character domestic drama overlaid with typically Pinteresque ambiguity and mystery.
A legendary story relating to just how abstruse Pinter's playwriting can sometimes be involves legendary actor Anthony Hopkins who was appearing in a revival a good seven years before Hannibal Lecter allowed him to turn his back on the stage forever. Hopkins joined a long list of people left utterly baffled by the play’s ending, but since he enjoyed a privilege few ever get, he seized the opportunity to ask Pinter to explain exactly what the ending of the play meant. Pinter’s response: “I don’t know. Just do it.”