Stewart Takes Care of Pinter OnstageBy Michelle
November 10, 2003 - 10:35 PM
The Roundabout Theatre Company production of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker, which stars Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) alongside Kyle MacLachlan and Aidan Gillen, opened to generally positive reviews last night in New York.
In the story of a homeless man (played by Stewart) who pits two more respectable brothers against one another, "moods can change like April weather, and where what a person says may merely be subterfuge for what he thinks," wrote prominent New York Post theatre critic Clive Barnes.
Barnes called the production "odd but compelling", saying that "the cast is beautifully tuned to concert pitch."
Stewart, he added, "shifty and arrogant by turn, proves splendidly braggart as the drifter Davies, wonderfully uncertain of the ground he's spitting on."
The New York Times review was less favourable, as critic Ben Brantley called director David Jones' staging "dutiful" and "generally uninvolving" and said that little-known Gillen "is an innately better actor than his more famous co-stars."
Gillen's performance "is at once sharp and shifting, his tight little smile an uncertain balance of cruel and kindly intentions", he wrote, adding that while Stewart has "isolated moments of dramatic strength", his performance is "largely one-note."
"The geriatric mannerisms — the tremor in the voice, the shortness of breath — seem affected, as if he might throw them off any second, like the oddly biblical-looking coat he wears for his entrance," he stated. "You never think — as you must — that Davies is ever in control."
Elysa Gardner of USA Today, on the other hand, credited the actors with finding the play's strengths.
The "bracing performances" of Stewart, MacLachlan and Gillen, she wrote, "capture the humor, suspense and pathos in Pinter's script and drive home his message about the dynamics that bind and threaten to strangle human beings."
In contrast to Brantley's review, Gardner stated that "Stewart shows none of his usual proclivity for scenery chewing; his nuanced portrait never reduces Davies to the cartoon character he could easily become in less capable hands."
The Caretaker will be performed at the American Airlines Theater through January 4th. Information about the production and tickets are at the Roundabout Theatre site.