Had to travel to cork as a guest of the Everyman Theatre, to see the opening night of that wonderful company, London Classic Theatre and their Irish tour of Pinter’s The Caretaker. I’ve enjoyed this company at either Theatre Royal or Garter Lane for years now but sadly this year neither are part of the tour. London Classic have a great reputation and their Artistic Director, Michael Cabot, has an impressive way with the plays they take out on extensive tours. Their last three outings gave us The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Humble Boy and Abigail’s Party.
For this 1959 play they created a wonderfully compact set to show the squalid place that the strange and passive Aston brings the argumentative tramp like figure Davies to share a cluttered attic room. Into that no man’s land of dereliction also comes Mick as Aston’s angry brother, a possible small time decorator/builder.
Out of that unlikely trio Pinter wove one of his most unsettling plays and London Classic have in a way sped up the much misunderstood Pinter pauses in the dialogue and still managed to keep the dangerous tension as each character probed the other to achieve an upper hand or confuse the audience.
In a wonderful performance Nicholas Gadd was a prickly Mick, with Richard Stemp as the taciturn but deeply troubled Aston. Nicholas Gasson was excellent as the scheming tramp Davies who has no intention of leaving the house and accepts the curious role of Caretaker.
Once again, London Classic Theatre shines with quality and adds much to a depleted touring scene in Ireland.