The Caretaker


Harold Pinter’s first real success is receiving a leisurely but beautifully acted revival at The Old Vic, directed by Matthew Warchus. It stars Timothy Spall, who was so wonderful as the artist J. M. W. Turner in the film “Mr. Turner.” He’s wonderful again here as the street bum Davies (originally played by Donald Pleasance). The play is fascinating not only on its own terms — full of the usual mysterious Pinteresque sense of unexplained tension and threat — but also as an example of the playwright’s early ideas about what he was trying to do. It is, in some senses, a mash-up of Samuel Beckett and John Osborne, two writers who were having a huge impact on the English-speaking theater in the late ‘50s, when Pinter was beginning his work. Beckett delivered the aimless sense of existential dread and Osborne the angry, working-class bile. “The Caretaker” marries them. If you’re a Pinter fan, this is worth seeing both on its own merits and for its historical significance. Fair warning, though — it’s three hours.

Jack Viertel

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