Date Night with The Caretaker

Have I mentioned that Mr MoT spends a lot of his time away from home on business?    This is one of the reasons I have been firmly ensconced at home over the years, holding the fort so to speak. On the occasions he is in the UK we try to escape for a bit of us time.  The theatre is always a popular contender and where better than the Old Vic?  Admittedly, after the tumultuous day I had had, dashing up to town for a 7pm meet was not top of my agenda and I even considered pulling out. What a mistake that would have been!

If you don't know already, the play currently running at The Old Vic, is Pinter's The Caretaker with Timothy Spall. We had great seats up in the Dress Circle, perfectly positioned so we were informed by our chatty neighbour, who has been booking the same seats since 1972, to get a full view of the stage.  The central chandelier was pretty fabulous too!

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Although an English graduate I never touched on Pinter, so arrived unfamiliar with the drama.  The play is set in one location throughout, a shambolic London attic, piled high with junk, a bucket dangling precariously beneath a leak in the ceiling and lots of peeling wallpaper.  It is home to Mays' character Aston.  Spall is the hobo Davies, offered refuge by Aston and MacKay as Mick, is Aston's brother. Essentially, they are a motley group of misfits, isolated from the world and all with their own cross to bear.

Spall's appearance is that of a mix between Mr Twit and Steptoe.  His accent is thick and his speech on occasions faint, so concentration is key, particularly if you are up in the dress circle.  There is also a lot of racist language which 56 years on from its creation does make it challenging to listen to sometimes.  Balanced against this, however, is hilarious characterisation.  The script is very witty and there are some real "belly laugh" moments.  The play is three hours long with two intervals, giving plenty of time for sustenance, although you have to be quick to avoid being left with spicy tomato crisps - a hit with Mr MoT I might add but not so for me!

In Act 2 May delivers one of the most spell-binding moments in the play, with a monologue on his time in a mental institution when he was younger.  I would challenge anyone who watches it not to be completely enthralled by his rendition and having only recently watched him in Line of Duty as the dodgy policeman, it was interesting to see him in a different context and what superb acting.

Teenager No.2 is a big drama queen so helping her to learn her lines whether for a play or her next LAMDA exam is a common occurrence.  George Mackay, however, gives a whole new meaning to "line learning" with a couple of totally faultless deliveries of gabbling opinions most notably on his plans for redecorating the attic ready for letting, with teak veneer and cork.

All in all if you like a trip to the theatre this is a must see and the Old Vic is always good for a bit of celeb spotting too - the lovely Anna Chancellor was at the bar whilst Mr MoT fought over the last bag of spicy tomato crisps - he knows how to impress!

 

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