It's raining heavily outside the Old Vic, it's raining inside too. The stage is obscured by a slate roof onto which rain pours. As the lights go down the roof lifts up and back to reveal a junk-filled, tatty attic room.
There is a bed to one side and a bucket hangs from the ceiling to catch drips. There is one window and rain trickles down the outside. There are voices from the other side of the one door to the room and through it steps a man in a smart grey suit and an old man with wild, wiry grey hair and a tatty old-gent suit.
If you are going to see your first ever production of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker you might as well make it big budget production with actors of the calibre of Timothy Spall, Daniel Mays and George MacKay. First production? Shocking I know, the play has taken on almost mythical qualities because it's a classic I haven't seen. I've not read it either so I'm experiencing the play (and Spall on stage) for the first time.
He plays Davies, a homeless man, whom Aston (Daniel Mays) has rescued from a brawl. Aston lives in the room which is in a house owned by his brother Mick (George MacKay). He's doing it up for him, although he never seems to do much other than try and fix a plug or stare deep in thought. Davies talks without really seeming to say anything of any substance and Aston doesn't say much he just goes about working on the plug.
Mick, when he appears, talks a lot, fast and aggressively but again doesn't say much of any substance. They are all slippery, half-characters, you learn little of their history the irony being that Davies, the most loquacious, is probably the least reliable narrator. He says what he thinks people want to hear allies himself to whomever he thinks will let him stay. It is a tactic that doesn't reckon on family loyalty.