Thursday, 8 October 2009

The Caretaker - The Everyman Theatre, Liverpool

The Caretaker
Writer: Harold Pinter
Director: Christopher Morahan
Reviewer: John Roberts

It may have been more apt to have produced ‘The Homecoming,’ as this was a theatrical event of the year. The first time stage and screen stalwart Jonathan Pryce performs on the stage of The Everyman Theatre since he was a member of and later in charge of The Everyman Repertory Company, and never have I seen a performer so comfortable or more at home than seeing Pryce perform last night.

Set in an attic room in an estate in London which is stunningly designed in a hidden layered set by Eileen Diss. We focus on the lives of two brothers who are working on renovating the whole block of flats and their invited guest Davies – a man who has no fixed abode or identity. What opens up in front of the audience is a battle of power and wit, in an almost territorial game of verbal and physical chess.

Pinter’s script is full of wry and sharp wit, and the use of repetition and long silences only enforce the inner evils and torments of each of the characters that inhabit his world, each seeming to want acceptance from the other but unaware that to find their dreams and follow their aspirations they actually need to put their differences aside and find themselves and each other.

Director Morahan has a clarity in vision and is constantly aware of tension that needs to underlie the production, but never failing to realise that the script is laden with humour and finds a balance where the humour helps the pacing of the production but never overpowers or taints the overall feel of the production. Peter McDonald (Aston), Tom Brooke (Mick) and Jonathan Pryce (Davies) produce a masterclass in acting, coping with the vocal dexterity and emotion weighting of Pinter’s script with ease and familiarity that is becoming so rare to see in modern theatre productions.

McDonald is perfectly cast as the socially uncomfortable younger brother, who would rather spend time in the flat or preparing for his shed, than explore or interact with society, heavily reliant on the support of his older brother, McDonalds searing monologue in the second act is touching and deeply moving. Brooke provides menace aplenty as Mick, whose rage and angst are expressed almost directly though his tightened physicality and menacing glare, one can’t remember a single moment where he blinked on stage.
But it is Pryce who delivers the performance of his life as down and out Davies, physically dishevelled and providing him with a Welsh accent only helps enforce the characters isolation in a time when racial hatred was rife. Pryce’s comic timing is immaculate bringing a lightness and spring to the proceedings but Pryce really comes into his own when relishing the manipulative and deceitful nature of Davies where he can muster and produce plenty of vocal bite.

This is the strongest production to have graced the Everyman stage in years and thoroughly deserving of the standing ovation and rapturous applause given last night, and that can only be credit to the company who work solidly for two and a half hours but also to the unique vision that Gemma Bodinetz and Deborah Aydon have provided to the Everyman & Playhouse Theatres...if this is the fair we can expect, then long may they reign.
Photos: Helen Warner
Runs until Sat 31st Oct
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