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Isaacs, S. (2017). The Caretaker by Harold Pinter, directed by Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic, London, April, 2016. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 7(1):139-141.

(2017). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 7(1):139-141

The Caretaker by Harold Pinter, directed by Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic, London, April, 2016

Review by:
Reviewed by Steve Isaacs, M.B., B Chir, MRCP, MRCPsych

The Caretaker, a three act play by Harold Pinter, is probably his best known. When first performed in 1960, it provided his first major success. Its three male characters act in what has been described as a triangle of solitaires. Pinter's work has given rise to an eponymous adjective, Pinteresque, describing a writing style containing pauses, silences, and implications of threat such that a heavy atmosphere is built using colloquial language, apparent triviality, non sequiturs, and long pauses.

The play's characters are Davies, an itinerant, effectively a tramp, who is nominated as the caretaker; Aston, a slow, ponderous man, damaged by psychiatric treatment; and Mick, his much more dynamic younger brother, a man in his late twenties, who deals in property. Aston invites Davies into his ramshackle flat after rescuing him from an altercation. He invites Davies to stay on a spare bed. Davies is an elderly down and out, his clothes torn and dishevelled. Aston is in his early thirties, with a severe haircut and a slow way of walking and talking.

The plot revolves around Davies' attempt to insinuate himself into a position of comfort, involving a total absence of work. As a result both brothers separately offer him with a vague job description, the job of “caretaker”.

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