The Caretaker – Harold Pinter (1960)

The Caretaker is a play in three acts by Harold Pinter. Although it was the sixth of his major works for stage and television, this psychological study of the confluence of power, allegiance, innocence, and corruption among two brothers and a tramp, became Pinter’s first significant commercial success. It premiered at the Arts Theatre Club in London’s West End on 27 April 1960 and transferred to the Duchess Theatre the following month, where it ran for 444 performances before departing London for Broadway. In 1963, a film version of the play based on Pinter’s unpublished screenplay was directed by Clive Donner. The movie starred Alan Bates as Mick and Donald Pleasence as Davies in their original stage roles, while Robert Shaw replaced Peter Woodthorpe as Aston. First published by both Encore Publishing and Eyre Methuen in 1960, The Caretaker remains one of Pinter’s most celebrated and oft-performed plays. … According to Billington, Pinter described Mick as the most purely invented character of the three. For the tramp [Davies], however, he felt a certain kinship, writing ‘[The Pinters’ life in Chiswick] was a very threadbare existence . . . very . . . I was totally out of work. So I was very close to this old derelict’s world, in a way.’ (Harold Pinter 114–17). For earlier critics, like Martin Esslin, The Caretaker suggests aspects of the Theatre of the Absurd, described by Esslin in his eponymous book coining that term first published in 1961; according to Esslin, absurdist drama by writers such as Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Edward Albee, and others was prominent in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a reaction to chaos witnessed in World War II and the state of the world after the war. … One of the keys to understanding Pinter’s language is not to rely on the words a character says but to look for the meaning behind the text. The Caretaker is filled with long rants and non-sequiturs, the language is either choppy dialogue full of interruptions or long speeches that are a vocalised train of thought. Although the text is presented in a casual way, there is always a message behind its simplicity. Pinter is often concerned with ‘communication itself, or rather the deliberate evasion of communication’ (Knowles 43). The play’s staccato language and rhythms are musically balanced through strategically placed pauses. Pinter toys with silence, where it is used in the play and what emphasis it places on the words when they are at last spoken. …”
Wikipedia, W – The Caretaker (film)
Xenophobia and Colonialism in Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker
NY Times: Pinteresque Hospitality
YouTube: The Caretaker (1963) 1:40:52

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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1 Response to The Caretaker – Harold Pinter (1960)

  1. Riebenstahl says:

    “The Caretaker” will always be special to me, as it was my first play as a stage manager.
    Thanks for the link to the video.

    Like

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