Adelaide Festival Review: The Caretaker – Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide (10.03.12)

The Theatre Royal Bath Productions presentation of The Caretaker for the 2012 Adelaide Festival is a superb example of modern theater, from one of the worlds most influential playwrights, Harold Pinter. Starring internationally celebrated and multi-award winning actor Jonathan Pryce the play is at once a simple tale of an outsider with secrets, and a more complex excavation of the notion of isolation and the complexities of human relationships.

Jonathan Pryce is utterly convincing in the part of Davies, a tramp who finds himself taken in by Ashton (Allan Cox), a mentally-ill but kindly stranger who saves Davies from a brawl. Ashton is a virtuous but isolated man who all to trustingly allows a stranger into his home. Davies invitation into Ashton’s shambolic apartment and existence, quickly becomes an intrusion and truths, confessions and the real nature of each man’s character is revealed.

Alex Hassell delivers a faultless performance as Mick, Ashton’s unpredictable, erratic and sometimes violent brother. Mick is at first antagonistic towards the freeloading stranger, yet as the relationship between Davies and Ashton begins to decay, Mick begins to manipulate the situation.

Hassell does great justice to his characters’ complex dialogue, with he and Pryce performing spectacularly against one another, delivering brilliant moments of intensity and of comedy. Pryce convey’s the character of Davies with fervent, persuasive conviction. It is a rare gift to be afforded the opportunity to witness such a singular performance of a complex and engaging role.

Through the turmoil of exchanges between these three men, the audience’s preconceptions are challenged and we find ourselves repeatedly doubting our own judgements. Notions of what is ethical, honorable and dignified come into question as each character is revealed to us in more and more depth.

Pinter employs comedy in The Caretaker in a way that strengthens the audiences connection with the three characters, and Pryce brilliantly portrays this comedy both physically and verbally, forcing us to laugh, even when the feeling of uneasiness sits in the pit of our stomach. The audience are left to question the nature of the prison we all find ourselves in when we cannot, or do not, communicate with one and other.

The Caretaker will run at Her Majesty’s Theatre until March 23 as part of the Adelaide Festival.

MORE INFO: http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/

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