Review: The Caretaker (Throwing Shade Theatre Company)

Venue: The Actors Pulse (Redfern NSW), Nov 22 – Dec 2, 2017
Playwright: Harold Pinter
Director: Courtney Powell
Cast: Alex Bryant-Smith, Andrew Langcake, Nicholas Papademetriou

Theatre review
The house is dilapidated, but its three male inhabitants do nothing to improve conditions, choosing instead to involve themselves in mind games, finding ways to exert power over one another, as they while the days away, never achieving anything.

Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker themes are many. Talking about things social, political and psychological, the 1960 play does not make explicit any of its concerns, but creates scenarios and dialogue that may inspire us to find associations with the real world. Resonances have faded with time, as the issue of relevance comes into question, but it is doubtless that Pinter’s characters are fascinating, and their interactions, fabulously theatrical.

The production is often an intriguing one, with director Courtney Powell facilitating our questioning of all the activity that takes place. A naturalistic style, carefully orchestrated, prevents us from dismissing scenes as simply bizarre, and lures us in, to consider the dynamics and meanings in operation.

A strong cast keeps us involved in the many unlikely exchanges. Nicholas Papademetriou manipulates us in his interpretation of a central figure, a vagrant who finds himself in the middle of two brothers, becoming increasingly sinister, and surprising us quite delightfully, through subtle transformations of personality. Alex Bryan-Smith is a convincing ruffian, animated in his portrayal of a menacing type, bringing excellent energy to the show as Mick. In diametric opposition is Andrew Langcake who plays a quiet, possibly disturbed Aston, offering perfect balance to the noise of his counterparts.

The character of the house has changed, since the play’s inception 57 years ago. The meaning of property ownership informs the way we see The Caretaker, and in hyper-commercialised Sydney today, divorcing ourselves from the economics of the story is impossible. We observe the three men in hierarchical terms, the landlord, the tenant and the temporary resident, and we wonder how money, along with the disparity between rich and poor, affects the way we live with one another. The root of all evil is perhaps perennial, but its nature seems to morph with the passage of time.

www.throwingshade.com.au

5 Questions with Alex Bryant-Smith and Nicholas Papademetriou

Alex Bryant-Smith

Nicholas Papademetriou: What 5 words would you use to describe The Caretaker using words that start with the letters PINTER?
Alex Bryant-Smith: Psychological. Intense. Nutty. Threatening. Exploitative. Relentless.

You play Mick in The Caretaker. What would Mick do if he won 20 million in the lottery?
Do up the house, flip it, and repeat. Get on the property ladder.

What is it you are enjoying most about doing this play?
I love messing with Davies, and discovering new and deeper ways to play each little moment or
question or line. There is so much depth to the writing, it’s incredible.

If Mick could date any current film star who do you think he’d choose and why?
I don’t know… someone tough and resilient. Jennifer Lawrence? Because she would intimidate him
and thrill him at the same time.

In a nutshell, how have you approached the role of Mick? Has it been a different process to
usual?

The process has been similar to other roles but it took me a while to find his central conflict, the
reason he is there at all. Since then it has been a matter of finding all the juicy little details behind
each line because there are so many, and each one can be played many different ways – so much to
sink your actor’s teeth into!

Nicholas Papademetriou

Nicholas Papademetriou

Alex Bryant-Smith: What 5 words would you use to describe The Caretaker using words that start with the letters HAROLD?
Nicholas Papademetriou: Humorous. Arresting. Rollercoaster. Over-the-top. Loquacious. Disturbing.

You play Davies in The Caretaker. Davies has been “all over”, what would his dream holiday be and why?
He’d love to go somewhere he can spend his entire life without wearing shoes. (Why? You’ll have to come see the play.) But a sandy white beach would be ideal – perhaps Cornwall Beach in Jamaica. Away from the throng, but the odd English eccentric for Davies to banter with.

Jonathan Pryce famously played this role. What would you want ask him about his experience with Davies and The Caretaker?
I’d ask him how he remembered all his lines!

If Davies could have any animal as a pet, what would he choose and why?
A hedgehog. They are mild, expect little and like to keep to themselves, but if anyone messes with them they get instantly spiky. Kindred spirits.

What has been the most difficult part of preparing for this production? Have there been any unique challenges?
The most unique challenge of mastering a Welsh accent that isn’t really a Welsh accent, because Davies isn’t really from Wales… or is he? Retaining the great swathes of dialogue has also been pretty challenging. The other challenge is a constant in all acting: to play the character with honesty and integrity and to respect what the writer intends.

Alex Bryant-Smith and Nicholas Papademetriou can be seen in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter.
Dates: 22 November – 2 December, 2017
Venue: The Actor’s Pulse

Review: An Unseasonable Fall Of Snow (Ewan Productions)

Venue: The Actors Pulse (Redfern NSW), May 30 – Jun 3, 2017
Playwright: Gary Henderson
Director: Giles Gartrell-Mills
Cast: Alex Ewan, Nico Papademetriou, Randall

Theatre review
The setting looks like an office, for lawyers or the police perhaps, but we never really find out where Arthur and Liam actually are, as we witness the aggressive interrogations taking place. Gary Henderson’s An Unseasonable Fall Of Snow involves two deaths, a mystery that takes the form of an intriguing puzzle, challenging its viewer to discover its secrets before everything is laid bare at the end.

Director Giles Gartrell-Mills orchestrates an enjoyable ride, luring us into the enigmatic qualities of the play with a quiet elegance. Sound and lights are underutilised, so we are not quite spellbound by its flirtations with the supernatural, but the plot is nonetheless effectively relayed for an engaging hour of theatre.

Arthur is played by Nico Papademetriou, who makes us believe that there is always more being hidden away, a convincing mastermind of sorts, and we need to know all the cards that he holds close to his chest. Alex Ewan is impressive as Liam, volatile yet operatic in his portrayal of a young man deep in trouble. It is a performance thoroughly considered, and boldly executed, leading to a result that illustrates some of the more obscure facets of human nature, while providing an exciting sense of high drama to the piece.

When snow falls in springtime, nothing is quite what it seems. We wish for life to adhere to expectations, but the forces in control of existence are far greater than any individual’s volition. If we find ourselves walking into a blizzard, when all we had wanted was a garden of green, there is no changing how nature wishes to be, and we must look to our desires for answers on how the inside can be in harmony with outside.

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