If few Cambridge students have been to Girton college, I suspect even fewer have paid a visit to the Mumford Theatre. Well and truly outside the Cambridge “bubble”, Sally Woodcock’s production of The Caretaker offered a night of pure professionalism in an intimate gem of a theatre. Horseshoe Theatre Company is not student based and, without disparaging the drama scene within our revered establishment at all, it was refreshing to see older men, played by older men, rather than by nineteen year olds. All three actors gave accomplished performances in a production which had no superfluous gimmicks and which was faithful to Pinter’s script and intentions; as Woodcock herself says in the programme: ‘it is ultimately a question of performing his score as faithfully as possible’.

Lucy Williams’ set eloquently expressed the isolation of Pinter’s created world by indicating all four walls of Aston’s room, the front two lower than the back two. Revealingly, though, the walls themselves were not present, rather the clutter that had been pushed back to them. In Aston’s long monologue the emotive force of the words was increased by the intimacy of the staging: he simultaneously faced the wall, away from Davies whilst looking out to the audience. Lighting in this production was like good make-up: there, but not so as you’d notice. David McRobb’s design didn’t distract from the words but rather, subtly enhanced their effect: on one character opening a window, a harsh light suddenly flooded the small grimy room; as Aston’s monologue became more insular the other lights on the stage faded until he really was alone.

Horseshoe Theatre Company claims that it aims to ‘produce modern classics…for the benefit of public exam students’ and this was clear in the accessibility of the performance: no one would have been intimidated by Pinter&rsq uo;s writing having seen this show. Comedy and farce were frequently interspersed among the more serious episodes and even without having read or studied the play, this production could have been enjoyed for pure entertainment value; which was, surely, Pinter’s principal aim as a playwright.

Five Stars

Elizabeth Davis

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