Review - The Caretaker at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

The Caretaker
The Caretaker

In many ways there is a lot to admire about this production of The Caretaker currently being staged in Northampton.

It concerns Aston welcomes the homeless Davies into his dilapidated flat, sheltering him from the violence of the streets. Recognising an opportunity, Davies attempts to leave his past behind and start afresh. But what is he being offered? Friendship? Shelter? A job? Or a home?

Patrice Naiambana as Davies

Patrice Naiambana as Davies

When Mick, the landlord arrives, he confronts the unexpected guest and the three men begin to circle one other suspiciously, each desperate to turn this new situation to their advantage, whatever the cost.

The energy that the three performers give to the show for the two-and-a-half hours of the performance. Particularly as it is just the three of them. The whole show is about the relationship with Patrice Naiambana adding a vulnerability amongst the eccentricity as Davies, while Jonathan Livingstone as Aston is just a husk of a man, traumatised by the past. David Judge as Mick with pincer, almost crab like movements is a truly unsettling figure, captivating and difficult to take your eyes off.

Such is the unease in the relationship between the three men, you are left on your edge of your seat because you suspect something is going to happen. It's like watching the build up to a scary moment in a horrible film.

The set is truly astonishing to look at, an old ramshackle of a flat showcasing the issues with all the central characters.

It is not without its flaws, it does feel a little too long and some of the dialogue is repeated that it does get a little irritating. But I suspect that might be a fault with the material rather than the production.

The show has been modernised with computer monitors abandoned casually, but it is not locked into any specific time period which can make it tricky to date. And the ending is very difficult to interpret.

But this is a compelling piece of theatre, appropriately edgey and a masterclass in acting.

The Caretaker can be seen at Northampton's Royal & Derngate until Saturday September 28. For tickets, call the box office on 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.