“The Caretaker” provides intensely pitted portrayals among three-man cast

Three-man cast of theater majors play two brothers and a homeless man in tense-filled play, “The Caretaker,” by Harold Pinter, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Photo courtesy of Bozark

“The Caretaker,” a 1960 play by Harold Pinter, will be performed by three students in the theater department who depict two brothers and a homeless man.

The play, set in a 1959 London apartment, contains characters who are “rather absurd,” according to James Van Leishout, visiting director.

“They don’t complete ideas and they often repeat things…The theme is about broken people in a broken world trying desperately to survive,” Van Leishout said.

Van Leishout said the actors, also theater performance majors–Ben Nickols, Bryan Arnold and Chris Kernan–are superb in their ability to work as an ensemble and their reactions to each other are great.

“[The three-man cast] is going to increase the intensity because the actors have to be very focused all the time. The audience is going to see some phenomenal acting with great intensity,” Van Leishout said.

According to Van Leishout, there are many dramatic pauses throughout the play

“In the pauses, there’s thinking going on. Structurally, the pauses create tension,” Van Leishout said.

Nickols, a sophomore, said his character Aston was exposed to electrical shock therapy and is mentally disabled. His character is “quite different” and he researched electrical shock therapy and its side effects to learn how to internalize the character’s thought processes.

“I experimented with ways how to come off as that… being a little off,” Nickols said.

The play, which includes some physical conflicts, arguments and strained interactions among the three men, heightens in drama during a monologue by Nickols. His character recalls the electrical shock therapy during his asylum stay. During these moments he relives trauma that which the audience can experience his emotion-filled acting.

Arnold, a senior, said his character Mick is tough but extremely protective over Aston, his older brother.

“Mainly he’s about looking out for his older brother and takes what happened to Aston seriously,” Arnold said. “He can’t face Aston because when he looks at him…he sees the treatment.”

Kernan, a senior, plays the character Davies, a homeless man who is saved from a fight after which Aston brings him into his apartment to sleep.

Kernan said his character is a rambler and storyteller, who is lonely and manipulative, trying to stay in the house for stability.

“Davies is insincere—saying what needs to be said to get what he wants,” Kernan said. “He thinks he’s got people wrapped around his finger in control when he doesn’t.”

Van Leishout said he hopes the audience will come away with the idea that it is a struggle to survive and “maybe we need to take care of each other.”

Van Leishout is visiting director, Megan O’Neill, senior technical theater major, serves as stage manager and Scott Schoonover a professional designer from St. Louis, worked on the set and costumes.

“The Caretaker” will be performed at the Metcalf Theater on Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 23 at 2 p.m.   The following week, performances are Wednesday, March 26-Saturday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m. The final performance is Sunday, March 30 at 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased through the SIUE Box Office at 618.650.2774. Admission is free for SIUE students with their ID card.

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