It is very evident that Courtney Powell and her trio of actors have put in a lot of time and taken a lot of care in  putting together this revival of one of Pinter’s masterworks. Their efforts are well rewarded as they have come up with a strong, memorable  production.

The show’s uncompromising tone is put in place straight away. We walk into the theatre to be greeted by a set depicting a very run down, decrepit apartment I have seen. Stuff is thrown everywhere, the roof is leaking with a bucket ‘thrown’ underneath to catch a few of the many drops. There are two very lonely single beds looking particularly grotty. The only window looking out is broken with the winter draught coming through.

We soon learn that this is Aston’s apartment – chaotic and emblematic of his disordered mind, the result of a nervous breakdown and ensuing shock treatment.  

Pinter’s story pivots around Aston’s decision to share his digs with Davies, a homeless man he befriends at the local pub. Aston soon finds out that Davies is not as grateful as he should be. This is a view that is shared by his older brother, Mick, who actually owns the apartment. Tensions between Davies and the two brothers escalate leading to an inevitable, distressing resolution. 

Harold Pinter was an actor before he became a writer, a fact worth bringing up here. He definitely knew how to write worthy roles for actors and the three actors really go to town with their performances.

Nicholas Papademetriou is exceptional as the ungrateful, manipulative, weedy, creepy tramp, Davies.  (There is something Moliere-esque about this character). Mick has his measure when he frankly tells him. ‘You are way out of your depth.’ Sadly, Davies has no skill with introspection and to the very end remains his own worst enemy.

Andrew Langcake gives a deft, understated performance as the meek, kind hearted, troubled Aston.  Langcake shows the soft  side to his character which less good natured people like Davies are keen to exploit. Aston knows how tough his life is however he still has some hopes for the future including building his backyard shed. Through the play we see him endlessly fidgeting with a power plug, trying to relieve some of his nervous energy.

Alex Bryant-Smith delivers a suitably edgy performance as Mick, a  very no-nonsense ‘heavy’ masculine presence, reminiscent of a Tennessee Williams character. Mick is volcanic by nature such as when  he picks up a miniature Buddha statue and throws it against the wall.

My tip. Try and get to this show if you enjoy powerful, well performed drama in an intimate venue.

THE CARETAKER is playing the Playhouse at the Actors Pulse, 104 Regent Street, Redfern until Saturday 2nd December. Performances nightly at 7.30pm.