[colinfirth.info] [work index] [theatre] [The Caretaker 1991]
|The Caretaker by Harold Pinter (also director)
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Peter Howitt and Colin Firth
On tour prior to opening in London:
Theatre Royal, Newcastle ........ 7 - 11 May 1991
Colin Firth on playing Aston:
from THE EVENING STANDARD, 14 June 1991 ("The Forte of Firth")
"I adored the play and wanted to work with Pinter and Pleasence," says Colin Firth. "But I wasn't sure I wanted to play another character with problems. I thought I might find it depressing."
After playing a brain-damaged Falklands soldier in Tumbledown and a shell-shocked soldier in A Month in the Country, the role of Aston, the retarded brother in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker, did not immediately appeal. "I felt I wanted to play D'Artagnan instead. I thought I'd like to lighten up a bit at some point."
But during rehearsals, a curious thing happened. "I've fallen totally
in love with the character. He's really one of the most happy and hopeful
characters I've played. He's supremely generous. There's a real purity
[...] Pinter's production emphasises the vulnerability of youth as well
as age, casting unusually young actors as the brothers. Peter Howitt's
Mick might be a leather-clad tough leaving the pub for a game at Highbury;
but there is burning disappointment in him, too, as well as covert affection
for Colin Firth's Aston, whose blank face and flat, dull voice mask a desperate
attempt to clamber out of chaos. The smile they exchange while Davies flounders
justifies John Arden's remark, that one of the play's subjects is "the
strength of family ties against an intruder." What can we call so subtle,
suggestive and fascinating a piece but a classic?
[...] ...There are excellent performances, too, from Peter Howitt and
Colin Firth as the brothers. [...] Firth is wholly convincing as Aston,
especially in the long, calm, chilling account of his experiences at the
hands of the doctors.
[...] As the older brother Aston, Colin Firth's hypnotic account of
the terrifying treatment he received in a mental hospital sends the shivers
coursing down the spine, and throughout, with his ugly voice and awkward
posture, he movingly captures the character's wounded inadequacy, diffident
charity and aching need for friendship.
"Pinter's Clash of Symbols"
a review by Michael Billington
[...] Colin Firth's Aston, suffering from electric shock treatment,
is a touching portrait of a gentle, slow-moving giant reminiscent of a
different Lennie in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.
"Sidcup or bust?"
a review by Annalena McAfee
[...] Colin Firth's touching Aston has an unexpected dignity. He summons
pathos as much from his considered reflections on Guinness (heartbreakingly,
Davies responds with a comment on the weather) as with his account of his
terrible experiences in a psychiatric hospital.[...]
[...] Impressive too, are the contrasting performances of Colin Firth,
compellingly still and passively impregnable as the tramp's gentle host,
and Peter Howitt [...]
[...] As his lobotomised brother Aston, Colin Firth has the brooding
look of a man whose brain has been truly disconnected.
[...] As Mick and Aston, Peter Howitt and Colin Firth are both excellent.
[...] Like some gentle, diffident giant, Firth, with his awkward postures
and nerd-like voice, contributes a remarkable study of a loneliness that
seems to have put the sufferer beyond the reach of help or intimidation.
[...] The four major Pinter revival in the last six months, this is
the first to bear the author's own imprimatur. Pinter as director [has]
been canny enough in casting at least one of his supporting roles to make
sure Pleasence meets his thespian match. That role is the part of Aston,
the cleaner (relatively) and more respectable of the brothers and the more
apparently kindly. As played by Colin Firth, a fine actor still awaiting
the film stardom for which he was once touted (he starred opposite Annette
Bening in Milos Forman's ill-fated "Valmont"), Aston has the evening's
single finest moment: a heart-stopping recollection of his experience in
electroshock therapy that makes clear that this character, too, is one
of the walking wounded.
[...] the author's own production of "The Caretaker" [...] opened at
the Comedy on 20 June [...] the great gain was the casting of Peter Howitt
and Colin Firth as Mick and Aston: the one a flashy, leather-jacketed bruiser
[...]; the other a gentle slow-moving, lobotomised giant. [...] it's
hard to imagine [other actors] bettering Howitt and Firth: two looming
six-footers with similar strong-jawed faces and quite plausibly brothers.