The Caretaker (2002)
Torch Theatre Company,
Milford Haven, Wales & Welsh Tour
Programme Cover

Sean Kearney as Mick
Keith Woodason as Aston
Owen Garmon as Davies

Director - Dave Bond
Set & Costume Designer - Sean Crowley
Lighting Designer - Elanor Higgins

Tour Venues (Spring 2002):-
Theatr Gwynedd, Bangor
Theatr Ardudwy, Harlech
Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea
Theatr Hafren, Newtown
The Theatre, Chipping Norton
The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff


Western Telegraph - Wed. 13th Feb. 2002
The Caretaker, Torch Theatre Company

Torch's anniversary triumph sets standard for future


The Torch Theatre Company last week launched its 25th anniversary season with a marvellous production of Pinter's 'The Caretaker' - and has set itself a very high benchmark for the next 25 years. It isn't often that an audience leaves a theatre - particularly a cash-strapped, provincial theatre - unable to conceive how a performance could be improved upon, but this was certainly the case last week. The audiences may not have been large - Pinter's undeserved reputation for being 'heavy going' no doubt putting a few people off - but they were unanimous in their praise for a production brimming with humour and menace. Written in 1959, 'The Caretaker' is all about communication and the way in which the words we use are often a smokescreen to cover our true feelings. Two brothers, Mick and Aston, both have some vague claim to a cluttered and semi-derelict London flat, and both have plans to do it up - although you know they never will. Aston, played with a disturbing stillness by Keith Woodason, and Mick - a prickly and menacing Sean Kearney - have trouble communicating in words, but their body language hints at undiscovered depths of emotion, never revealed. They are unable to remain in the same room together for more than a few minutes. The arrival of Davies, a Welsh whinger of a tramp, to become semi-official caretaker of the flat provides the brothers with someone to talk to, to confide in and - in the case of Mick - to bully. Not that anything is straightforward; silences abound - awkward and uncomfortable silences - and conversations go round and round in circles like the bag the three men pass between them in a kind of grotesque dance. As Davies, Owen Garmon is simply magnificent, whether working himself up into a rage of impotent fury over various perceived slights or cowering under the lash of Mick's tongue. Pathetically, often hilariously self-important, he manages to convey less through his long, repetitive speeches than Aston achieves through a tongue-tied silence. Beautifully staged and brilliantly acted, this production is both a triumph for the Torch Theatre and for its developing links with the Welsh College of Music and Drama. Director Dave Bond is head of acting at the college, while set designer Sean Crowley is the college's head of design. And the clever lighting design is by Elanor Higgins, a graduate and part-time lecturer at the college. But it is the powerful and impeccable performance of the three actors which live in the memory. Keith Johnson

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