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After a long absence from the stage, Timothy Spall is back treading the boards – and he rightly looks absolutely disgusting in the role of Davies – the filthy old tramp in Harold Pinter’s 1960 three hander whom most people would cross the road to avoid.

But ECT damaged Aston has brought him back to his junk-filled attic home where rain drips endlessly through the ceiling and only scraps of peeling wallpaper remain.

A kindly, slow thinking soul (who spends most of his time tinkering with the plug of a faulty  toaster   instead of getting on with building the garden shed he longs for or getting to grips with the decorating necessary to bring the rest of the house into commission), Aston is, even to the homeless Davies, a likely easy touch.

credit: Manuel Harlan

Slack-jawed, wheedling and xenophobic, Spall’s shifty Davies has a cunning gleam in his eye as he increases his demands, but he’s no psychological match for Aston’s younger brother - sleek, unpredictable Mick (George MacKay giving a scene-stealing performance of unpredictable menace). who verbally pokes and prods the intruder with a staccato interrogation

Running at three hours, Matthew Warchus’s production takes its time and (particularly in Spall’s interpretation) emphasises the comedy, but Daniel Mays’ broken Aston, alone in the spotlight, adds real poignancy to this territorial struggle between three misfits,

Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB


Until 14th May     

Tickets £12.00- £60.00 + premium seats


Theatre Review: The Caretaker
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