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Film Review: Harold Pinter's The Caretaker

Performed at The Old Vic Theatre, London


Timothy Spall as Davies

Daniel Mays as Aston

George MacKay as Mick


Admittedly my knowledge regarding the lead for this play was minimal. Peter Pettigrew from Harry Potter. An actor with an OBE and yet, shamefully, this was my frame of reference. So my father tells me the play is in 3 parts, 2 intervals, and although I would consider myself patient, I did think, how patient can one really be in this life? 

I knew of Harold Pinter and I knew he was highly acclaimed, but this did also worry me. I’ve found myself in the past delving into the “great” novels only to find myself lost and referring to an online dictionary every other word. I was pessimistic. However this laid the path for either being right or pleasantly surprised and the latter was achieved. It was a play with great comedic value and strong underlying messages regarding society.

Timothy Spall’s performance outshone the rest, playing a homeless man named Davies, taken in by one of two brothers, Aston. Of course his experience and age has to be taken into consideration regarding this, but there are only so many times age can be used as an excuse before it becomes invalid. Playing a character is hard enough, even though I do feel the majority of us do this at least once a day. But playing a character with extreme speech patterns and body language is even harder, and the quality at which this was maintained was truly outstanding. His comedic timing and delivery is world class. 

A bold start was sealed off with a bold finish. Spall embodied almost every single drunk elderly gentleman I have come across in my few years; sloppy and loud, self involved and selfish. The urge in me to stand up myself and walk onto the stage and shake him by his shoulders was genuine. And that’s what I want; I want to forget this isn’t “real”. His co-stars gave respectable performances as well, convincing. However George MacKay underwhelmed me. I couldn’t help but feel I was watching a knock off version of Gene Wilder. 

The play belonged to Daniel Mays and Spall and MacKay was their dinner party guest. Daniel May’s youthful face is somewhat misleading, of course I’m not saying 38 isn’t young, but I imagined 29 at the very most and being proven wrong made sense as his performance as the mentally ill brother effected by electric shock therapy was flawless. He was consistent and appropriate, with the chemistry between himself and Spall being perfect. His charm shone through as he made a shy, combination of nerves somewhat romantically appealing. One couldn’t help but feel drawn to him. 

The play ran for approximately 3 hours and this flew by, the wit and comedy in the writing was of course outstanding and I’m sure the late Harold Pinter would be pleased with this production.

Written by Rosie Kennedy Ward


1 comment (Add your own)

1. Groundworker wrote:
Very perceptive. This Mackay was more a reincarnation of Arthur Daley's nephew.

24/05/2016 @ 4:11 PM

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