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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Caretaker review

© Mark Fisher - published in the Guardian

The Caretaker
Citizens, Glasgow
4 out of 5

A few months ago, the talk was all about white, working-class males feeling alienated in a multicultural society. Whatever the merits of that analysis, Harold Pinter was on the case first, nearly 50 years ago. In Davies, a tramp who suffers the double-edged hospitality of two brothers, the playwright offers us a character whose fortunes are never so low that he can't take a pop at the neighbourhood "blacks". This derelict, who scarcely has a pair of shoes to call his own, has too much pride ever to think himself on the bottom of the ladder.

His new acquaintances are little better. Whether it's the mild-mannered Aston, who brings Davies back to his dilapidated apartment, or the menacing Mick, the men cling to the idea that they have a meaningful place in society. As we head towards recession, it is chilling to be reminded that it is work that provides us with that meaning. The three men are without employment, yet all claim to have some offer of a job, some contact to meet, some business to be undertaken, to make sense of their lives.

Phillip Breen's careful production draws us quietly into this sad portrait of male loneliness. Tam Dean Burn is a twitchy Davies, in contrast to Robert Hastie's mesmerisingly still Aston, as much a symbol of 1950s British reserve as a product of electric shock therapy. As Mick, Eugene O'Hare is a warped music-hall act in a Joe Orton leather jacket, undermining Davies with double-talking repartee, but hiding behind no less of a front. The Caretaker retains not only its elliptical strangeness but also its ability to resonate with the times.

© Mark Fisher, 2008

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