The Caretaker

Definition

Theater

  • The play that established Harold Pinter as a major playwright; it is still his best known work. A three-hander, it was first performed in 1960 at the Arts Theatre Club, London, with Alan Bates as Mick, Peter Woodthorpe as Aston, and Donald Pleasence as Davies. It went on to enjoy a lengthy run at the Duchess Theatre. The first of many revivals was staged at the Royal National Theatre in 1981.

    The story revolves around the shabby old tramp Davies, whohas been given somewhere to stay by Aston. The latter has recentlyhad electroconvulsive therapy in a mental institution. Davies constantlyinvents new excuses for not leaving and is caught looking throughAston's personal belongings by Mick, Aston's brother. Davies's realrelationship with the brothers is mysterious: one minute Mick accusesDavies of being an intruder and the next calls him an old friend.Aston returns to offer the tramp the job of caretaker. Davies triesto play the brothers off against each other and at one point threatensAston with a knife. Eventually both reject his ploys and the play ends with their apparent decision to turn him out.

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