The Caretaker (4 stars)

The Caretaker

Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 15 Nov

Pinter’s tale of a power struggle between three men, one destitute, one marginalised by mental health issues and one seeming to exist at the twilight edge of bourgeois respectability, assumes a new power in the current economic climate. When down-and-out Davies (Tam Dean Burn) inveigles himself into the decrepit, detritus-strewn room of Aston (Robert Hastie), a man recovering from ECT, the latter’s seedy businessman brother (Eugene O’Hare) takes an interest, sparking an omega-male psychological brawl.

In front of Max Jones’ grimly detailed bedsit set, Breen’s production points outwards at a society overloaded with aspiration and bereft of the means of achieving satisfaction on either a spiritual or material level. Some tremendous physical business from Burns’ tramp combine nicely with O’Hare’s droll, deadpan humour, while Hastie’s singular monologue about his experience of a barbaric mental institution is delivered with chilling, downbeat precision. Each character cites ambitions, be they as modest as the building of a shed or the attaining of a pair of comfy shoes, which will never be realised, all against a background of emotional and fiscal impoverishment. Yet there’s endless humour to be found among the pathos, with all three actors bringing a Hancock-like wit to the delivery of dialogue that constantly undermines the characters’ pretensions. Most of all, the aching loneliness of these unobserved lives comes across underneath the surface aggression.

The Caretaker

  • 4 stars

Phillip Breen directs Harold Pinter's classic comedy about one man's act of kindness in inviting a tramp into his home. Tam Dean Burn stars.

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