The Caretaker

  • Davies
  • Aston
  • Mick, his younger brother

The caretaker (English: The Caretaker ) is a play by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter. Released in 1959, it found its world premiere on 27 April 1960 at London's Arts Theatre with Donald Pleasence as Davies, Peter Woodthorpe as Aston and Alan Bates as Mick, directed by Donald McWhinnie, and moved a month later to the larger Duchess Theatre. From the premiere staging 444 performances were given. The German -language premiere in a translation by Michael Walter found on 29 October 1960 at the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus instead of Otto Rouvel as Davies, Klaus Knuth as Aston and Karl -Heinz Martell as Mick, directed by Friedhelm Ortmann.


The young and, as it turns out in the course of the play, struggling with mental problems Aston brings the tramp Davies in his dilapidated shack full of junk and invites him to stay here. He has saved him just before a fight in a nearby café and Davies - whose true identity is never really clear, once he calls himself Davies, then Bernard Jenkins - draws, just arrived, and on the staff of the café, on the Black at all the whole alien ago. Tired and burned as he is, he accepts the offer, not yet prolix to report without Aston previously of where his things are left and how he tried to get into a monastery in North London a pair of shoes. Aston offers him a pair of used shoes, but he refuses. Finally, the two move under the junk out of bed and Davies goes to sleep exhausted. Aston repaired during the entire conversation - and eventually even the entire piece - either an old toaster or an electric plug. Both will not succeed until the end. He also claims to want to build with the standing around in the room wood in the garden behind the house, a shed.

The next morning, Aston leaves the house, but offers Davies to stay. The Browsed instantly around in things, but is surprised by a stranger, provided speech and irritated with strange games and questions about his identity. This is Mick, Aston's younger brother, the house seems to belong and supposed to be supporting with the idea to transform the whole complex into a modern apartment with penthouse. As Aston comes back and brings Davies pocket, which he had forgotten in the café, Mick plays his games with the old, until it finally disappears. In the case, however, it is not a question to which are by Davies, Aston, that it is a different but a shirt and a smoking jacket for the elderly has brought. The rejects the shirt, but takes the jacket. Suddenly Aston offers him to become caretaker with him. Davies hesitates.

As Davies gets back in the booth again, Mick is here and once again plays his games with him, but then pulls him into confidence and ask him about his opinion of his brother, was with something not quite right. Even that turns out to ultimately be a trap, as one does with Mick never really know where you stand. But then he also offers Davies suddenly the caretaker posts at.

Davies begins to feel comfortable at Aston, but complains one morning about the cold and the breeze in the room. And he has new shoes still do not. Aston told him in a long monologue, the story of his confusion as he was finally forced to electric shock treatment and how his mother was disappointed.

Two weeks later, Davies is still there and complains to Mick about Aston. In return, Mick explained in detail to him how he intends to rebuild the house. As Aston comes back, Mick disappears. Aston has a pair of shoes for Davies there, but that is again dissatisfied, complains and whines until Aston silently disappears.

The next morning it comes back to a big argument between the two, Davies can be tempted to Aston insulting as former inmates of a lunatic asylum, and as lunatics, Aston throws him out, however, Davies pulls out a knife and refers to Mick's offer. Aston can not even be impressed by it and puts it in front of the door.

Davies comes back with Mick Aston is not there. As Davies misses to Mick about his brother, he must realize that he has underestimated the cohesion of the two. Mick begins again one of his games with him, finally calls him a wild animal and a barbarian, throws him a coin back and dashed to pieces before his eyes Astons small Buddha statue. Aston comes back, Mick goes. Davies once again tries to curry favor with Aston, offers help in the home, the shed, but draws the short straw. Finally, he is helpless in the room and knows that he has lost the battle.


Pinter has stressed on several occasions that there was no real role models for the characters that he, however, on the one hand impressions and incidents of his time as a young actor drew in London and on the other the characters and the independent theater view of Samuel Beckett have admired. For this reason one has Pinter's early pieces, even the janitor, always expected the theater of the absurd, although Pinter himself wanted to make no statements as he ever was almost never willing to provide evidence or interpretation aids to his plays.


Criticism and theater management were before the premiere very skeptical because the pieces Pinter had all failed in the seasons before. However, already turned out at the premiere that there was something big going on. The audience was enthusiastic and the reviews eventually excellent. The caretaker was a full house, had to be moved after a few weeks into the larger Duchess Theatre, was a big hit of the London theater season in 1960 and stole it another theater production that are to be had at a bargain of the year, the show: Orson Welles had Ionesco's grotesque the rhinos with Laurence Olivier staged in the lead role for the Royal Court Theatre. The young Pinter and his caretaker, however, won the race. The Caretaker has been translated into many languages ​​and the world a great success, Pinter became a famous young playwright.

Harold Pinter directed the play himself until 1991, Donald Pleasence played it again - 31 years after the premiere - the Davies. Other great actors such as John Hurt ( 1972), Jeremy Irons (1973 ), Jonathan Pryce (1980 ) and Michael Gambon (2000) were seen in the ever-new London productions of the play.



Harold Pinter: The Birthday Party; The caretaker; The Homecoming; Betrayed, Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2001, ISBN 3-499-12905-1