This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

17May/12

THE CARETAKER

Jonathan Pryce, Alex Hassell, and Alan Cox star in THE CARETAKER at BAM (photo by Richard Termine)

Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton St. between Ashland & Rockwell Pl.
Through June 17, $25-$100
718-636-4100
www.bam.org

Jonathan Pryce gives a whirlwind tour-de-force performance in the latest revival of Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, running at BAM’s Harvey Theater through June 17. In the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse/Theatre Royal Bath production, Pryce (Miss Saigon, Comedians) stars as the tramp Davies, a homeless man in tatters who is just looking for a good pair of shoes and a place to rest his weary bones. He is offered both by Aston (Alan Cox), a friendly sort of chap Davies met in a pub who takes Davies to his apartment, a ramshackle space overloaded with dusty, moldy black-and-white and gray objects, the only color a brightly painted ceramic Buddha. Davies is soon being harassed by a strange man who turns out to be Aston’s younger brother, Mick (Alex Hassell), who enjoys teasing the elderly Davies. Over the course of several weeks, the trio engages in existential philosophical discussions à la Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, speaking about nothing and everything as both brothers separately ask him to serve as the apartment building’s caretaker, leading to confusion over who’s really in charge. Meanwhile, Davies keeps talking about having to get to Sidcup to reclaim his identity papers, as his real name is not actually Davies. Directed by Christopher Morahan, The Caretaker is worth seeing just for Pryce’s extraordinary performance as the title character, an endearingly eccentric figure who likes things his own extremely particular way. The first half is filled with eclectic humor and slapstick, but the second half gets bogged down in repetition and plot twists that come out of left field, not really going anywhere ― even though that’s part of the point. “I can take nothing you say at face value,” Mick says to Davies. “Every word you speak is open to any number of different interpretations.” And so it is with the play and Pinter himself. The Caretaker was his breakthrough, premiering in London in 1960 with Donald Pleasence as Davies, Alan Bates as Mick, and Peter Woodthorpe as Aston; Robert Shaw took over the role of Aston on Broadway and in Clive Donner’s 1963 film. Pryce will participate in an Artist Talk following the May 24 performance, speaking with Pinter scholar Austin E. Quigley.

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  1. thanks — change made!

  2. Robert Shaw took over the role of Aston when it moved to Broadway, before the film.


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