11 November 2006


Sheffield has two great theatres - the beautifully refurbished late nineteenth century Lyceum and the nineteen sixties blocked monument to concrete modernity and functionalism - The Crucible. It was to the latter theatre that my daughter and I ventured this afternoon to see Harold Pinter's "The Caretaker" - written in 1959. It starred David Bradley as Mac Davis, Con O'Neill as Aston and Nigel Harman - the former EastEnder as Mick.


I was so glad I got off my ass to see this production before it closes tonight. The three actors were all superb - really living their parts and clearly grasping the writer's vision. The set was also superb - a junk shop mess of pointless odds and ends. In fact you might say the whole play is pointless. It shows us a world where people don't really communicate, a world of pregnant pauses and leaking ceilings, a world of aimless comings and goings, unspoken or spoken longings, a sense of peace and yet brooding hints of violence. Here Aston and Davis are trying to connect:-
You said you wanted me to get you up. --- Aston
What for? ---Davis
You said you were thinking of going to Sidcup. ---Aston
Ay, that'd be a good thing, if I got there. ---Davis
Doesn't look like much of a day. ---Aston
Ay, well, that's shot it, en't it? ---Davis
For Davis the idea of Sidcup where his papers are becomes something of a promised land - a place he dreams of going but which inside he knows he will never reach.
It was nice to see the play with my lovely Frances - all grown up at eighteen and taking Theatre Studies at school. Riding home on the Stagecoach bus in the November rain, it was nice to reflect on such an enigmatic play with her and to realise that she had appreciated it as much as I had. Wasn't it just yesterday or the day before when I pushed her down to the park in her Silver Cross pushchair?


  1. I auditioned for "The Caretaker" specifically for the part of the gorilla. "Hey," I thought, "I'm down on my luck playing other characters, I might as well play myself for once." Then, they cut the scenes with the gorilla. Those "pregnant pauses" are actually supposed to cover up the missing scenes. Shocking!

  2. I remember seeing 'The Crucible' at the Crucible. It was years ago now, but it was so good I have never forgotten it.

  3. When I was in College I used to go to every production they had, but not since. I miss it.
    My college actually put on the Crucible.. I guess they all do at sometime or another.

  4. Yes it's hard to work out where the time has gone. Miss P is on a study week, ie no lectures, and since her mates who live farther away from Sheffield than we do and have gone home, she has also home for the week.

    It's amazing the difference these last week have made to her. Confident, self-contained and so much more grown-up. Sometimes I wish we could wind back the clock ten or 15 years, if only for a day.

  5. That's a lovely shared moment YP. You are a lucky man to have such family relationships as you touch upon in your writings. Does your daughter know that you only took her to the theatre to get her to help you put cool picture effects on your blog though?

  6. You lucky man! "The Caretaker" is one of my favorite plays, not only because I love Harold Pinter, but because it launched the career of one of my favorite actors, Robert Shaw. Not to mention Alan Bates and Donald Pleasance.

    Have you ever seen a very silly TV show called "Mystery Science Theater 3000?" It's like an adult version of Kukla Fran and Olie, where the host and a couple of puppets watch a truly dreadful film and make funny, often surprisingly literate comments throughout. What got me hooked on it was a line used during an awful Italian science fiction film from the early '80s, in which the pacing and acting were hilariously bad. "Man, this film has more pauses than a Pinter play!"


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