The Caretaker Review

Reviewed by Jasmine Crittenden

The Caretaker established British playwright Harold Pinter as a theatrical success. The play was first staged at the Arts Theatre Club in London in 1960, before moving to the Duchess Theatre, where 444 performances took place. Further, it won an Evening Standard Award for best play of the year.

The action begins when Davies (Darren Gilshenan), a homeless man, is saved from a brawl by a polite, calm stranger named Aston (Anthony Gooley). The two return to Aston's apartment, where Aston invites Davies to stay. Aston seems keen to help, offering Davies shoes, clothing, and a job, but he doesn't count on Davies; potential for manipulation.

Before long, Aston's unsettling brother, Mick (Henry Nixon) enters the scene. The three become embroiled in a complex power play, which reveals their histories, hopes and anxieties are peppered throughout with sardonic humour.

Directed by Iain Sinclair, the star of the show is undoubtedly Gilshenan, who tackles Davies with the right mix of mania, delusion, and pathos, as well as impeccable comic timing.

Gooley delivers a sensitive, moving portrayal of the softly spoken Aston, while Nixon provides a well-executed foil in Mick even if, at times, slightly over-wrought.

The play is set entirely in Aston's draughty, one-room apartment, which, as the action proceeds, intensifies the characters; circular interactions and increasingly claustrophic relationships. Designer Veronique Bennett places the characters firmly in 1960s London with simple, metal beds; checked blankets; gas heating; and assorted metal junk.

The Caretaking is currently showing at Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli until 19 November, More >>