Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932
Registered Charity No. 294848
by Harold Pinter
Cast & Crew
Mick Bryan Hall
Aston John Lott
Davies Leslie Necus
Director John Campling
Stage Manager & Set Design Colin Cornwall
Assistant Stage Managers Denise Swann, Sally Haddon
Continuity Susan Swann
Lighting David Lawrence
Sound Andrew Garner
Wardrobe Alison Dunmore
Posters Claire Vaughan
Front of House Members of The Masque Theatre and Friends
Les Necus and Bryan Hall in The Caretaker
Production No. 205
16 - 20 April 1980
Northampton College Arts Studio, Booth Lane, Northampton
Page last updated: 15/07/2012 Masque Theatre © 2012
Northampton Chroncile & Echo, 15 April 1980
The Northampton Masque Theatre follow their recent J. M. Synge double bill with a production of Harold Pinter’s famous, controversial and immensely successful The Caretaker.
It opens tomorrow for five nights at the Arts Centre studio, Northampton College of Further Education, Booth Lane South, and features three stalwarts of the local stage - Bryan Hall, Les Necus and John Lott. The director is John Campling.
The play is about two brothers and their relationship with Davies, an old tramp. The elder brother, who lives alone in the only habitable room in a house in Wimbledon, rescues Davies from a brawl in a cafe, brings him home and installs him as a caretaker.
TAKING CARE OF HAROLD PINTER
John Gilbert, Northampton Chroncile & Echo, 19 April 1980
The fortunes of amateur drama groups wax and wane and this production is further evidence, that the Masque are once again in the ascendant.
There was the splendid production of Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard in December of last year, a less successful but undoubtedly enterprising stab at the Irish enigma J. M. Synge at the end of February and now this essay into what is probably the big-English enigma’s best-known play.
Director John Campling has given it very detailed attention and the cast of three - Les Necus as the tramp, John Lott as the man who gives him somewhere to live and Bryan Hall as the latter’s brother - turned in first night performances of a very high standard.
They all showed great sensitivity to Pinter’s keenly-observed dialogue and brought out with refreshing clarity the main theme of the play, the inability of people to relate to one another on any but the most trivial level.
One thing the cast should be careful to avoid, however, is the common tendency to make this playwright more naturalistic than he is. I’m not suggesting that director and cast have missed the point but there is always a danger of trying, perhaps unconsciously, to smooth over hesitancies and rationalise the non sequiturs. Certainly the first night lacked the usual number of famous Pinter pauses.
I liked Les Necus’ tramp very much - a well sustained and believable performance - and John Lott impressed too as Aston, the older brother. Bryan Hall was sound as usual but didn’t look quite so happy as the younger brother, the least rewarding of the three roles.
Altogether it’s a fine production but it failed to alter my opinion that Pinter is a dramatist who consistently asks the same question without ever coming up with an answer.
MASQUE PLAY IT FOR LAUGHS
Michael Hamilton, Northants Post, April 1980
Harold Pinter's masterpiece went onstage last week at the College of Further Education.
There are some people who shudder at the name of Pinter, who say he is boring and incomprehensible.
No doubt, these people would have stayed away from College but fortunately for the Masque Theatre they were inundated with the demand for tickets.
Pinter is closely allied to the Theatre of the Absurd, evolving his own brand of comedy with menace. The beauty about his works, as one performer remarked, is that he is capable of more than one interpretation.
The Masque Theatre's interpretation of “The Caretaker" was to place the emphasis on comedy rather than menace, presented by three of the most talented performers in Northampton.
John Lott put aside the regal and forceful roles he has played in recent years to underplay a pathetic, lonely creature so desperate for friendship, he brings a drunken tramp back to his home, a single room in a derelict house.
The tramp, suspicious of modern contrivances powered by gas or electricity, is only too ready to turn overnight hospitality into a more permanent stay.
Les Necus held the stage throughout the play as the tramp, displaying the artistry of reaction and facial expression allied to the spoken word, in this case, delivered with a lilting Welsh accent.
The menace in the play came from Bryan Hall, whose sadistic humour brought more laughter than trembles of fear.
These three actors, in the capable hands of director John Campling, continued the rise in standards that has been showing in recent months from several local companies. Long may this upsurge remain.