Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 27, 2008

The Caretaker

Berkshire Theater Festival, Stockbridge, MA
through June 28th
By Eric Johnson

As subtle as a sledgehammer; that’s how this show comes across. The harshly lit, rubble strewn attic set assaults the eyes and the loud, discordant jazz interlude music assaults the ears. The performances of the three actors seem barely in control as they disgorge dialogue at an almost suicidal cadence.

Director Eric Hill’s choices are sound ones and the total commitment to these choices by the cast and crew is what makes this production work.

James Barry (Mick), Jonathan Epstein (Davies), and Tommy Schrider (Aston) are fully believable as they portray their respective characters, all of them severely damaged in one way or another by life and circumstances. One never questions the authenticity of these individuals as the details of their lots in life are revealed. Kudos to this talented ensemble cast on a job well done.

The attic set by Jonathan Wentz is a study in disheveled detail. One will notice a vast collection of cast-off junk forming a perimeter around the stage as well as several bits of newspaper that appear to have fused into the floor which adds a particularly nice touch.

Matthew Adelson’s use of mostly harsh white light is the perfect choice to add to the general feeling of discomfort and chaos. The costumes by Yoshinori Tanokura work very nicely with the other elements while not attracting undue attention. One might say the costuming is the only aspect of the production that may be deemed subtle.

J Hagenbuckle’s “avant garde” soundtrack, with percussion that sounds like a hammer on steam pipes and a generous dose of dissonance, certainly enhances the overall distress level.

All of these elements, designed to assault the senses, come together as a nicely executed production of Harold Pinter’s work which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats physically and emotionally.