By Harold Pinter
Old Vic Theatre to May 14
London SE1 8NB
7.30pm Mon-Sat; mats Wed, Sat 2.30pm
Tickets: By phone: 0844 871 7628
Mon-Fri 9am-7.30pm, Sat 9am-4pm & Sun 9.30am-4pm
£2.50 transaction fee (does not apply to supporters of The Old Vic)
For further details log onto Text Relay
Box Office, The Old Vic, The Cut, London SE1 8NB
Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm (except when there are no performances, then the Box office will close at 6pm).
Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen April 7, 2016:
A parade of marvellous performance in an equally marvellous play
I have an abiding image of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker. It’s of Donald Pleasance, the scruffiest nastiest of tramps, face forever hollowed in a sneer.
This is not quite as envisioned in its latest incarnation, Matthew Warchus’s epic proportioned version at the Old Vic. For starters, you’ve a bit of a problem with the size of the Old Vic. The Caretaker is physically – and maybe even mentally – all about cramped, a seedy attic filled with bric a brac and lives scarred by prejudice and in one alarming case, by ECT treatment.
Rob Howells’ massive set, more suggestive of the eaves of a cathedral than the attic of a terraced house, certainly conjures up a junk-shop environment – a graveyard of old sinks, wooden boards, piles of old newspapers, electric fires and beds inhabited by the hunched figure of Daniel Mays’ Aston, forever mending a plug and irregular visits from George Mackay’s angular Mick: good cop and bad cop disorientating, manipulating Timothy Spall’s `Bern-ard Jenkins’ or as he admits, the assumed name of Davies.
Spall’s tramp is devious, a ridiculously preening fallen peacock, never happier than when sporting a red smoking jacket obtained by Mays’ kindly Aston. It’s a performance of flourish, an actor’s acting performance. And often very funny.
Pinter, himself an actor, loved actors. This Caretaker is a parade of `performances’ of which Mays is the outstanding exemplar. He does little; you can hear everything; he is becoming the actor of his generation, bar none, and he imbues the damaged Aston with an unforgettable gentleness and dignity.
But the marvel of this revival is the reminder yet again of how brilliantly Pinter manoeuvred his 1960s hermetic drama through character. Nothing is as it appears. Incongruity reigns. Power, domination, cruelty and music hall – they’re all in there with a flick of the Pinter wrist.
The Old Vic audience, packed to the gunnels, seemed once again spellbound by its atmosphere. Warchus’s stylish production, stretched to three hours, gives good value for money, entertaining and moving with the emphasis on entertaining.
`Comedies of menace’ is how former theatre critic, The Times’ Irving Wardle described Pinter’s early plays. Not quite that here but never, ever, a dull moment.
By Harold Pinter
Mick: George MacKay
Aston: Daniel Mays
Davies: Timothy Spall
Director: Matthew Warchus
Designer: Rob Howell
Lighting: Hugh Vanstone
Music: Gary Yershon
Sound: Simon Baker
Casting: Jessica Ronane CDG
First perf of this production of The Caretaker at the Old Vic Theatre, London, Mar 26, 2016