The Caretaker is one of the first plays of Harold Pinter and his first commercial success on the British stages. Published in 1960 it was strongly influenced by the works of the masters of the absurd theater, especially Ionesco and Beckett. The story brings together a triangle composed of two brothers who take into their houses a homeless who becomes the turning point of their relations and actually of the whole universe of the three. The game of power between the two is played via the third character, in dialogs that combine wit, dry humor with emptiness and despair.




The performance at the Cameri theater has many premises to succeed. The cast (Itzhak Heskia, Alon Dahan, Oded Leopold) is well chosen and accurate in execution. The set designed by Eran Atzmon is one of the most inspired that I saw lately, with the post-war England rusty atmosphere being generalized to any post-apocalyptic world. And yet the performance never takes off, the text translated by Ehud Manor (which would be another potential plus) lacks humor and misses the British dryness and despite the original three acts being shortened to less than 90 minutes the show seems too long.


(Excerpt from the Clive Donner’s 1963 film of Pinter’s play, with Alan Bates, Donald Pleasance and Robert Shaw -  video source twelveangrymen)


Did Harold Pinter’s early plays or the whole theater of absurd from where he found the inspiration of that period lose relevance in the world we live in (which some may say is anyway governed by absurd, so why look for it on stage)? I would rather say that it’s mainly director Yossi Pollack’s failure in creating a performance that matches the expectations of the meeting between one of the greatest British and world playwrights of the 20th century and the best theater in town. Pinter and Cameri deserve a second better chance.