The Caretaker: A Modern Masterpiece

November 20, 2009

It is the custom in Latin American countries to honor and memorialize loved ones around the anniversaries of their deaths.

How appropriate that the Little Theatre Group of Costa Rica, for 60 years the country’s only English-language community theater, will present its first production of British playwright Harold Pinter’s masterpiece “The Caretaker” today, one year after his death. Pinter, one of the most prolific and influential modern playwrights, died in December 2008 leaving behind an unparalleled dramatic legacy.

Pinter was an internationally renowned playwright, screenwriter and actor whose works are best characterized in the genre of theater of the absurd, or naturalistic theater.

Like writers Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Edward Albee, and Tom Stoppard, Pinter creates a world where seemingly ordinary and mundane conversations take on greater meaning, and the simplest actions produce comedic effects. Pinter uses words and the silences between them to evoke the emotions that lie beneath the surface of human relationships. His settings are often single rooms filled with people whose intentions are undefined. The resulting interactions are complex, yet often poignant and uplifting.

Pinter’s own observations of the neighbors who lived above him in a flat in West London in the early 1960s sets the stage for “The Caretaker.” Two brothers, Aston and Mick, share a flat that is in a state of constant disrepair. Having rescued him from a bar brawl, Aston has brought back to the flat a homeless man, Davies, who is eventually asked to become the caretaker for the property.

Through the story of the two brothers and the tramp, the play deals with the distance between reality and fantasy, family relationships, and the struggle for power. Pinter uses both comedy and tragedy to create a play that elicits profound reactions. The complexity of the play, Pinter’s masterful use of dialogue, and the depth and perception in the themes all contribute to the play’s consideration as a modern masterpiece. When first produced in 1960, “The Caretaker” brought Pinter his first commercial success and set him on a path that eventually led to his receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.

Roberto Leiva, who studied drama and is an accomplished actor, directs the play. Noel Montagano co-stars with Tom Humes and Robert Baker. Montagano has 35 years involvement in community theater. Humes is a longtime LTG actor and director. He was a professional actor in New York for 20 years before moving to Costa Rica. Baker, a new arrival in Costa Rica, studied music and voice at BrighamYoungUniversity in Utah, in the United States.

“The Caretaker” begins tonight and will run through Dec. 6, with 7:30 p.m. performances on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sundays at the Teatro Laurence Olivier (Avenida. 2 and Calle 28, next to Sala Garbo). Make reservations on-line at www.littletheatregroup.org or call 8858-1446.

Theater-goers are especially invited to attend the matinee performance on Sunday, Nov. 29, and then, from 4 p.m. on, join the fun at a ¢5,000-a-plate fundraiser dinner sponsored by the Casa Alfi Hotel for the LTG. Casa Alfi is a new boutique hotel in downtown San José (Calle 3 between Avenidas. 4 and 6). Raffle prizes include a night for two at Casa Alfi and two tickets to a future LTG production. There will be an open cash bar. Contact alfrich1@yahoo.com, or Caroline Kennedy at carolinekennedy17@gmail.com for more information.

Also, specially priced theatre-goers’ lunch/ dinner-theatre menus are available at Tin Jo and Grano de Oro restaurants, and weekend theatre packages are offered by Casa Alfi. Reserve meals and tickets through the LTG website; click on the restaurant of your choice.

 

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