THE CARETAKER: Harold Pinter.
Palace Theatre Mansfield then touring: info London Classic Theatre www.londonclassictheatre.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 25m: one interval.
Review: Alan Geary: 6th October 2010.
A fine production; you can smell Davies’s overcoat from the stalls.
When he comes on at the start you’d swear you can smell Davies’s overcoat from the stalls. But it’s not just the costumes that make this Caretaker excellent. Nearly all the ingredients are in place: the costumes, yes; the squalor of the semi-realistic set – which isn’t actually as cluttered as it needs to be; most importantly, some quality acting.
There’s Davies (Nicholas Gasson), whining and manipulative; Aston (Richard Stemp), pathetically neatly dressed, prissy and obsessive, walking about the room as if he’s clockwork; Mick (John Dorney), as deadpan as his brother, a sadistic no-hoper.
Somehow you know those mysterious papers in Sidcup will stay unsorted out, that shed will stay un-built, and the dump of a house will stay a dump.
Being Pinter, all the time there’s that air of menace: when Aston gets behind Davies and tells him he’s good with his hands, or during the beautifully done passing the bag scene, for instance. And there’s a lot of the theatre of the absurd: we get the fractured text, the non sequiturs, the failure of communication, the child-like behaviour. Pinter has an ear for the way not just the down-trodden but all of us speak across each other.
The humour lies in incongruities: the pompous dialogue from all three characters, the smoking jacket in a context of squalor, Mick’s uncle getting “chucked out of the Salvation Army”, or Davies’s earthy description of the “bastards” at the monastery near Luton. And there’s the way conversation stops and attentions wander every time a drop of water from the leaking roof pings into that bucket.
From the London Classic Theatre and directed by Michael Cabot, this is a fine production of what is most certainly a great play.
Mick: John Dorney.
Davies: Nicholas Gasson.
Aston: Richard Stemp.
Director: Michael Cabot.
Designer: Geraldine Bunzl.
Lighting Designer: Peter Foster.
Costume Designer: Katja Krzesinska.