Monday, May 14, 2012

Crazy for The Caretaker

Jonathan Pryce in The Caretaker

Until I started looking into Jonathan Pryce's theatrical past for this Time Out New York feature, I hadn't realized that the last time he did a nonmusical play in New York was 1984, or that the short-lived Broadway show--Accidental Death of an Anarchist--also featured Patti LuPone and Bill Irwin. The only time I'd seen him onstage before this past weekend was as Fagin in Oliver! during a trip to London in 1995.

But he's just outstanding in The Caretaker, which is now at BAM until mid-June. He plays Davies, the tramp at the center of the Harold Pinter drama, like a mental patient who either escaped or was discharged too soon, and it works really well. It makes his plight, even his paranoid rants about black people and drafts, much more tragic and funny. And it gives him the chance to engage in a heap of intriguing stage business without seeming hammy, from the way he taps about the stage when he tries on a pair of shoes to to the way he engages with plays with an old lawnmower or takes off his pants and sniffs the crotch. Has me longing for a fall trip to London to catch his King Lear...