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BOOK REVIEW - HAROLD PINTER - THE CARETAKER (1960) Methuen Press 

 

The first of Pinterís dramatic masterpieces. The plot is a complex one, hidden behind a simple premise. A non-too bright man invites a tramp home to his beds it flat as an act of kindness.The tramp is rather imposing and fussy. He is offered a pair of shoes, but he is unwilling to take them†† because they wonít fit too well. He will later reject another pair as they have the wrong colour laces.The tramp, called Davies, also seems to be living under an assumed name, for reasons never made clear. He listens to Aston, the kind manís dreams about building a little shed outside, a dream that never seems to come to fruition.The man who invited the tramp leaves him some keys to the flat and leaves on an errand. The tramp is surprised when another man, Mick, a headstrong, rather sadistic figure, treats the tramp badly until Aston returns. The brothers now make independent requests that Davies works for them to earn his stay at the beds it, as a caretaker. Aston confides in Davies that he was subjected to some kind of psychiatric brain tests in his youth. The tramp, which is wary of him now, and also loudly racist, begins to complain more and more. When he wakes Aston up in the night with his mumblings and snoring, Aston wakes him to ask him to keep the noise down. He threatens Aston with a knife, so Aston asks him to leave. Davies now tries to coax Mick to let him stay, but Mick has either mistaken Davies for a qualified interior decorator, or he uses the fact that he obviously has no such skills to sack and evict him. Davies makes his situation worse by insulting Aston to his brotherís face, though Mick has insulted Aston too.Desperate for support, Davies begs Aston for another chance, but he is ignored until he leaves.†† A tremendous study in cruelty and human misunderstanding. Even the language of the play has an implicit underlying violence that makes the text compelling reading material. Though influenced by Becketís Waiting For Godot, The Caretaker strips away the humour for something much darker and more existential. The result is actually rather creepy and unsettling but brilliant. http://www.geocities.com/pleasence/theatre/caretaker91/caretaker-2.html

 

 

Arthur Chappell

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