The Caretaker | Chichester Festival Theatre | Review

The Caretaker

Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre’s new Artistic Director Justin Audibert’s Festival directorial debut has been eagerly awaited and he does not disappoint.  His energy and enthusiasm shining through this claustrophobic three-hander.  The theme for this Season is ‘outsiders’ and Harold Pinter’s first successful play The Caretaker (first performed in 1960) brings to life a trio of ordinary characters, all of whom are somewhat damaged and isolated failures.  Pinter’s contribution to twentieth century drama spanned over 50 years achieving international acclaim and a Nobel Prize for Literature.

A semi derelict house in London in the late 1950’s is home to Aston, a mentally fragile solitary man, who forever intends to build a shed in the garden.  He brings home a homeless man after rescuing him from a fight and allows him to stay in his room.  The place is owned by Aston’s younger brother Mick, a volatile man with unfulfilled dreams.  The threesome dance around each other as the narrative threads through power, deceit, love and control creating an intensity that threatens to explode.

Stephen Brimson Lewis’ unbelievably impressive set depicts a shabby room overwhelmed with an incredible amount of junk ranging from an aged gas stove, basin, cases, newspapers to an awesome selection of clutter!  A rain-soaked sack covered window adding to the atmosphere of this intimate and confined space.

Exceptional chemistry unites the three cast members.  Adam Gillen plays Aston, brain-damaged from electric shock treatment in his youth now finding it hard to articulate and form any relationships.  He gives a memorable and poignant monologue when describing his resistance to the pincers being placed upon his head.  The role of Davies the sly, resourceful down-and-out is taken by Ian McDiarmid, attempting to play one brother against the other but procrastinating about getting his paperwork sorted out, and the eminently watchable Jack Riddiford plays the manic younger brother Mick.  The frantic speed of his dialogue is quite mesmerising!

This is a first-class production, five stars on every level and not surprisingly received a well- deserved standing ovation from the appreciative audience. The play runs until Saturday 13th July.


Reviewed by Jill Lawrie