Monday, January 18, 2010

The Caretaker by Harold Pinter, Trafalgar studios 1, 12-Jan-2008 – Directed by Christopher Morahan

An obvious thing struck me while watching this production starring Jonathan Pryce, this is a very simple play. Like I said obvious, it's set in one room, there are only three people in it and I've see the play several times but it was more that I realised the elegant simplicity that Pinter used to make his play work. There's no fat on the play and it delivery its mix of power games and menace efficiently and effectively.
Another thing I had failed to notice before was that the brothers (played by Peter Macdonald and Sam Spruell) don't seem to talk to each other – I think I recall a scene where the brothers share the stage and monosyllables are exchanged. Mick, the “normal” brother was sometimes seen (via a transparent wall) as if he was monitoring the situation. Strangely this realisation gave me the perverse feeling that they were somehow colluding in some kind of social experiment involving the tramp Davies (Jonathan Pryce with an accent I couldn't quite pin down). It was as if they were playing with the tramp's vanity and mendacity but unlike a real experiment they didn't have an end in sight they just waited until they were bored with the man then sent him on his way.
This sort of thing has probably been endlessly discussed elsewhere and by people who pay more attention. It does normally take me three productions of a play before I think I've noticed most things in it – I hadn't remembered the business with the window, in great detail, either.
I thought that Jonathan Pryce was good, not quite as flamboyant as I've seen others play the role but for all his hygiene issues and lying I actually had some sympathy for the character. I'm not sure that I'd felt that before and not as much.
I think I've seen the brothers played with more threat in the case of Mick and more damaged I the case of Aston. However the actors in these roles were still good at what they did.

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