The Vancouver Playhouse Company  

The Caretaker

By Harold Pinter

Reviewer: Jane Penistan

Dates: 5 April - 3 May 2003




Director: Bill Dow
Set and Costume design: Leslie Frankish
Lighting design: Gerald King
Sound Design
: Susanne Clampett
Stage Manager: Jessica Chambers

Harold Pinter's The Caretaker is as engrossing as it was when first presented in 1960. The interplay of the three characters and their understanding and misunderstanding of each other and the care for one another or himself are tellingly presented by Bill Dow and his cast and crew in this memorable production.

The set is a towering collection of all sorts of junk, from obsolete electronic appliances to balks of timber, old-fashioned luggage and discarded clothing. The only stage entrance is a door at the top of the pile, whence the actors descend to floor level via a succession of cabinets, crates, and boxes - quite an athletic feat. Yards of electrical wiring connected to various outlets and appliances produce light and sound, sparks, and, occasionally, a complete blackout.

William MacDonald is the gentle Aston, who is always dreaming of building a shed to house his collection of everything. He is the kindly tenant of the room that he offers to share with Davies the tramp who drops in to see what he can scrounge and who stays to batten on Aston and his brother.


Tom McBeath is a fast talking, persuasive, ne'er-do-well, who successfully gulls Aston into giving him food and a place to sleep besides clothes and shoes. He is given the job of caretaker by Mick, the owner of the premises and Aston's protective brother. Vincent Gale plays this shrewd businessman with a nice assurance. All three actors make the most of the definite characters Pinter has given them to work with, and they play to each other most convincingly.

If nothing else, this production would be a classic example for young actors to learn scene work, but it is much more. The playwright's work has been studied intricately and is presented with all the insight and empathy necessary for each character. The sharp humour of the script is never laboured. All three men are caretakers in one sense or another as we all are. It is part of the human condition. The Playhouse is presenting a great play, well performed and produced. It is one not to be missed.

2003, Jane Penistan