|Rupert Graves Online: Stage Productions.
Year: - 2000, 2001.
Author: - Harold Pinter.
Synopsis Or Review:
A Brilliant Caretaker From Patrick Marber.
Forty years after its premiere, how does Pinter's play stand up? With the resilience of a classic. Watching Patrick Marber's excellent revival, what astonishes one is the way a play, at once so familiar and so strange, yields new meanings through the chemistry of the particular actors.
The surprise casting is Michael Gambon as Davies, the itinerant down-and-out. Partly because of the prototype performance of Donald Pleasence, one always imagines the character, offered refuge in a junk-filled room, to be a wiry figure. But Gambon has the bulk and size of a Dickensian grotesque.
He offers the most physically repellent Davies I have seen - which, of course, makes all the funnier his attempts to cling to a pathetic dignity, as when he claims, "I've had dinner with the best." But what Gambon brings out specifically is the chameleon-like nature of the dispossessed.
Trained to a life of survival, this Davies shifts from ingratiation to aggression. When he turns on the brain-damaged Aston and warns him "they can have you inside again", it is with a downright cruelty that springs from deprivation. You never pity Davies; what astonishes is the unsentimental accuracy with which Pinter records his plight.
It is a brilliant performance. But it never overshadows the other actors, nor does it prevent you realising that Pinter's play is both about the loss of identity that comes from social exclusion and the way we all cling to life-sustaining dreams. Davies's personal Nirvana lies in Sidcup where his papers are ostensibly housed.
But when Rupert Graves's sleek, fly, property-owning Mick reclines on a sofa and talks of turning this tumbledown room into a penthouse, you realise that he is equally gripped by illusion. And as Douglas Hodge's kindly yet defiant Aston speaks of the shed he plans to build we are in the world of Gorky's or O'Neill's pipe-dreamers.
This is the key to the play's greatness: it is about three lost souls who never fully know who they are and who, while mercilessly exposing others' illusions, are all in the grip of private fantasies.
That is why the play makes sense everywhere from Cairo to Caracas. But the tone of Marber's production, given a design by Rob Howell full of rotting verisimilitude, is set by Gambon, who assumes whatever persona is necessary.
|Cast & Crew Information:
(In order of appearence).
Mick - Rupert Graves.
Aston & Mick - Alex Dower.
Director - Patrick Marber.
Designer - Rob Howell.