Saturday, 16 January 2010

Review: The Caretaker, Trafalgar Studios, 15 January 2010

Despite his horrible career choices (bad movies and questionable musicals) there's no doubt Jonathan Pryce is one of the most talented actors one can ever hope to see. His performance last year in the Donmar's Dimetos was one of the most remarkable theatrical experiences of my life. And this Caretaker might not be as touching as that but it is still an intense pleasure of a night at the theatre.

The marriage between Pinter's always sharp and eternally fresh writing and Pryce's talent is a winning combination. Pryce's Davies, the tramp that finds himself inmersed in a confuse powerplay between two brothers as he just tries to land a place to sleep in, dominates the scene with more energy than one would have imagined. His principal drive is mistrust, almost paranoia but the audience begins to share his suspicions as Peter McDonald's Aston and Sam Spruell's Mick turn out to be more than meets eye in this attractive production, transferred to the Trafalgar after its success.

The production itself is a bit flat at times - I'd like more darkness, a lot more of surrealism - but it is greatly effective and I could tell the audience was having a great time, which often is a tricky thing with Pinter, so wonderfully weird he is. And the actors were superbly directed. In such a tight and tense three-handler it is vital to have everybody working at top game. Peter McDonald had already caught my eye alongside Pryce in the West End revival of Glengarry Glen Ross and here he proves to be a relieable actors with a great stage presence- his Aston is very alien and detached, he feels hollowed out and when the reveal of his past in the mental hospital comes around it all clicks into place. He can seem helpless and edgy at the same time. At first I had my doubts about Spruell and his thuggish Mick but by the end of the play I was won over; his is a complex and clever performance, he gives the character pathos and charisma without losing the sense of threat. Both actors should be very happy of not only keeping their ground against a formidable Pryce but also completing him, and achieving that often elusive animal: a united, coherent cast.

Other reviews:
The Guardian.
The Independent.
The Telegraph.
The Times.

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