• Theater Review: Pathetic as a power tool
    By Jim Lowe
     | August 01,2014
    Jim Lowe /Staff photo

    Jim Hogue plays the pathetic but wily Davies in Unadilla Theatre’s “The Caretaker.”

    Harold Pinter’s classic 1960 tragicomedy “The Caretaker” is a psychological study of the confluence of power, allegiance, innocence and corruption among two brothers and a bum– but, mainly, it’s funny, and very blackly so.

    Unadilla Theatre’s production, which was seen Tuesday, benefited from a stellar performance by Jim Hogue, a veteran professional actor who moved to the area many years ago.

    Davies, a homeless street person is rescued from a fight by Aston, a young man who brings him home to his squalid apartment. Davies, ungrateful and unrepentant, spends most of his time feeling sorry for himself and demanding services from the hapless Aston.

    While Aston is out of the apartment, his middle-aged brother Mick, the building’s owner, arrives and takes Davies to task for being there. But soon Davies has allied himself with Mick, and then plays the brothers off each other using Aston’s unfortunate past and Mick’s fantasies about the future.

    And Davies does it all by being pathetic. What makes it so funny is that these characters simply cannot help themselves — their character makes their lives inevitable.

    It’s sick, but it’s very funny. “The Caretaker,” Pinter’s first commercial success, was made into a feature film in 1964, starring Donald Pleasance as Davies, Alan Bates as Mick, and Robert Shaw as Aston.

    The Unadilla production, directed by founder Bill Blachly, successfully aimed for the driest of dry humor. These characters are totally in earnest as they reveal their desperation and total lack of self-awareness.

    Hogue, who first came to Unadilla more than two decades ago, delivered Davies’ unrelenting narcissism with aplomb. Not for a moment can he see anyone’s interest but his own. What makes it so funny is how comfortable Hogue’s performance seemed.

    Hogue was joined two very good community actors. Unadilla veteran David Klein delivered Mick with flair, enjoying his sleaze and unknowing stupidity. Newcomer Martin Castonguay was perfect as the totally earnest and straight Aston, who the others used as a foil.

    With Pinter’s “The Caretaker,” Unadilla continues its nearly three decade-long tradition of local performances of great plays not often seen in Vermont. It was most rewarding.

    Final performances of two other classics are at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Friday), Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” in the Festival Theatre, and Alan Ayckbourn’s “Table Manners” in the old Unadilla Theatre.

    Unadilla Theatre

    Unadilla Theatre presents “The Caretaker,” Harold Pinter’s dark comedy, July 24-Aug. 8 at its new Festival Theatre, 501 Blachly Road in Marshfield. Remaining performances are at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2, 3, 7 and 8. Tickets are $20, $10 for 12 and younger; for reservations or directions, call 802-456-8968, or email Unadilla@pshift.com. For information, go online to Unadilla.org.

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