You can’t ignore the eloquence in the room.
Or the threat.
Elements of eloquence and an atmosphere of menace, Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker is given a fabulous production under the direction of Iain Sinclair. It’s a thrilling production that makes this sixty year old classic seem newly minted. Fresh.
No sign of the prolonged pause clause, the infamous Pinter punctuation parodied to atrophied cliche. Instead, pause is impeccably implemented, subtly not impenetrably. Or imperturbably.
Exploding misinterpretation of the Pinter pause, we have the tramp, Davies, known as Jenkins, garrulous in monologue, as is Mick, with Aston, Mick’s brother, slower in speech by contrast, but just as edifying, an emotional pitch less frantic, but labyrinthine in layer and meaning.
Pinter’s miraculous ear for colloquial cadence, a quality of chat that is consistently high is given full flight in this production, ping ponging parlance played to perfection.
Three actors relish and ravish their roles. Darren Gilshenan plays identity shy itinerant, Davies, with grubby gusto, a disreputable assigned to the dustbin of history, fantasising on a foothold on the future. Henry Nixon is Mick, a cunning linguist, who not only walks the talk, but canters, capers, courses through argot, accent and cadence, City voce to barking sar’major and back to civvy street spiv. And Anthony Gooley as Aston, the stolid, brain surgery affected fix it man, trying perhaps to repair the tramp, redeem the irredeemable. A less showy role, but a profound one, and powerfully performed.
Veronique Benett’s set and costume design is equally remarkable, a shanty bed sit of sumptuous squalor, a bric a brac shack, a horde house with a rusty lawn mower and disconnected gas stove. And that bucket hanging from the ceiling.
Symbolism, subtext, absurd situation, the lobbing of outlandish words and action amidst the mundane, The Caretaker is funny and frightening. Frightfully funny.
You really must take care to see it.
Ensemble Theatre presents
by Harold Pinter
Director Iain Sinclair
Venue: Ensemble Theatre | 78 McDougall Street, Kirribilli NSW
Dates: 14 Oct - 19 Nov 2022