BWW Review: THE CARETAKER at Zoetic Stage
It's London in the wintertime. A chattering wreck shambles around an attic flat. He flings a leg sideways. His filthy toes stick out from a broken sandal. He waves an arm. Ragged clothing, layer on layer, stiff with dirt. Filthy uncut hair, filthy untrimmed beard, filthy face and hands and teeth. Filthy eyes, cunning, side to side, up and down. He whines, he boasts, he snivels, he grovels. He lies. Always.
He's David Kwiat playing Davies, a homeless man let loose in the home of a benefactor in Harold Pinter's THE CARETAKER now playing at the Arsht Center in downtown Miami.
Nicholas Richberg is Aston. He took pity on Davies, rescuing him from a bar fight, offering him shelter. Aston is neat. Neatly parted black hair. He wears a coat and shirt and skinny black tie. His pants are two inches too short. Black socks and shiny shoes. Sometimes when he walks his right foot leaves the parallel, pointing outwards. He rarely speaks and when he does he stammers, just a touch, the words an effort, an upward glance difficult for him. He finds ease with a small screwdriver and a broken electric plug.
Aston is a collector. His flat is a maze of old furniture, old appliances, old beds, blankets, lamps, newspapers, paintings, games, a vast miscellany of the unwanted by others.
The attic floor is slightly raised upstage. French doors lead to the fresh air and chilling rain. An old bucket hangs by a chain from the high ceiling. The roof leaks, but Aston is going to repair it. Just as soon as he builds a shed in the back yard. He sands a lone plank to this end.
Davies excuses his existence. Every lost job a misunderstanding, unjustified termination, never his fault, always others. But he can straighten his life as soon as he can get to Sidcup. That's where his papers are. His ticket back to supposed reality. But first he needs shoes. Aston offers him a pair. Too tight. Another pair. The laces are the wrong color.
Aston lets him spend the night and Davies, asleep, gibbers and howls and grunts. Aston wakes him in the morning. Davies blames the neighbor blacks for the noise.
Aston leaves the flat, letting Davies stay behind. Before the prowling and poking can begin, Mick, Aston's young brother swaggers in. Mick is played by Daniel Capote. Black jacketed, black booted and black capped, Mick drives a van, is perhaps in the building business. He bullies. He cajoles. Aston returns with Davies' bag and the three perform an it's my bag, no, it's mine routine.
Aston offers Davies the position of caretaker of the flat. Davies responds by disparaging Mick.
Mick offers Davies the position of caretaker of the flat. Davies responds by disparaging Aston.
THE CARETAKER is a long play. Plenty of room for brilliant monologues and Pinter's lengthy silences, words left unsaid, emotions implied. A tightening tension building THE CARETAKER to its enigmatic climax.
As is Zoetic Stage's wont, the set design by Michael McClain, the lighting by Rebecca Montero, the sound by Stuart Meltzer, the original music by Jenni Hacker and Meltzer and the properties by Vanessa Elise are of the finest. The excellent costuming is by Fernando Calzadillo.
Zoetic Stage's artistic director Stuart Meltzer and Daniel Capote, David Kwiat and Nicholas Richberg deliver an irresistible evening of the paths to lonely madness.
THE CARETAKER is playing through April 16 in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami. 305-949-6722 http://www.zoeticstage.org
Photo L-R: David Kwiat, Daniel Capote, Nicholas Richberg
Credit: Justin Namon