Aston, a young man in his early thirties, rescues a poor old tramp from a fight. He brings him home to his room in a large house, gives him a place to sleep and offers him a job as caretaker. The tramp is reluctant to take the job, but he obviously likes the shelter and struggles to establish a foothold in the room. Mick, Aston’s younger brother, sees through the old man immediately and reacts by threatening him with violence, yet stops short of throwing him out, possibly out of respect for his brother. The three are caught up in a battle for power and territory that centres absurdly on a room full of junk. Davies, the old man, tries to play one brother against the other in his fight for space and status, changing his alliances constantly as he struggles to possess and hold a position in the house. The way that these three characters behave with each other has had the power to captivate audiences since the play’s first production in 1960. It deals with human responses that are basic to all mankind and that express a darker sense of man’s insecurity, aggressiveness or hypocrisy. In addition to the characters’ pursuit of status and power over one another, other themes that are touched on in the play include self delusion, the difficulty of communication, racism, family, mental illness and the plight of the poor. The depth and perception shown in the author’s dialogue, plus his use of both comedy and tragedy, all contribute to THE CARETAKER’S reputation as a modern masterpiece.
Scott Smith, Hayward Morse and Steven Lello