The Caretaker @ The Pavilion Theatre Reviewed

Posted on June 12, 2010

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When I spoke to Nicholas Gasson a couple of weeks ago, he told me a few things. Firstly, Pinter’s work gets compared to Beckett quite a lot. Secondly, Pinter’s work is comedic and we should laugh. Thirdly, his work is an exhibition of verbal dexterity.

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In a sense then, I had an inkling of what to expect as I sat down to watch this, one of Pinter’s best known plays. The story follows the fortunes of Davies, a lying, manipulative tramp who is taken in by Aston, a kind but simple man. The appearance of his younger brother Mick sets the three in opposition to each other and before long it is difficult to figure out who is manipulating whom.

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I’ve always thought three is a good number of characters to have in a play. The Caretaker if nothing else, is an exhibition of acting with Nicholas Gadd, Nicholas Gasson and Richard Stemp all excelling in their roles. Gadd is sharp and somewhat intimidating in his role as the streetwise younger brother Mick. Gasson plays the role of Davies the tramp to perfection, his facial expressions and movement acting as an extra indicator to the audience.

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The quietest performance of the play is perhaps the most emotional. Richard Stemp as Aston is wonderful, from the high pitched, nervous one worded answers he gives to Davies to the sprawling monologue near the end of Act One which is guaranteed to leave no audience member without a chill down their spine.

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The play itself is quite Beckett-like in nature. Nothing happens really. Somebody comes and somebody goes but the real story lies in the language and its delivery. And, as is more often than not with theatre, that story is open to interpretation.

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While I felt the first half dragged slightly the second half powers nicely towards its conclusion with much more provoked and explosive character interactions. It’s perhaps one of the things we don’t see so much of in Beckett. Everything’s so damned quiet. Pinter isn’t afraid to give a cast something to stretch their vocal range. And, while I don’t feel that the two writers have that terrible much in common, I was informed that they are nearly always compared in reviews.

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Having never read Pinter, I found myself wanting to read more as the last claps were sounded on this production. Pinter isn’t Beckett. Or vice versa. The Caretaker however, is a hell of a good play.

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Words: Anna Hayes

Read my interview with Nicholas Gasson (who played Davies) here: http://totallydublin.ie/culture-item-theatre-the-caretaker-1182.html

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