Observations: Pryce brushes up on his Pinter

Jo Caird
Friday 16 October 2009 00:00

Jonathan Pryce has appeared in The Caretaker before – a BBC adaptation followed by a staging at the National Theatre in 1980 – but when veteran director Christopher Morahan asked him if he would consider doing it again, he was immediately interested. His one proviso? "If I do it I want to do it at the Everyman".

The Liverpool theatre, celebrating its 45th birthday this year, was the site of the star's first job out of drama school, a season in rep that culminated in his taking over as artistic director for five months in 1974. In the 35 years since then, Pryce has become a household name and won two Tonys and an Olivier.

Originally, Pryce played Mick opposite Kenneth Cranham as Aston and Warren Mitchell as Davies. "The beauty of the piece," he says, "is that the straighter you play it, the funnier it's going to be." Now the character of Mick is in the hands of 31-year-old Tom Brooke and Pryce is taking on the "old man". "It doesn't get any easier," he says. "I have an absolute fear that someone is going to be in that night and they are not going to see a performance that was as good as it was the night before."

As the first professional staging of a work by Pinter since his death, this production of the 1960 play will find itself subject to a great deal of scrutiny. In the play, when Mick offers Davies the job of caretaker, he tells him "it's just that you look a capable sort of man to me". The Everyman should rest assured that the very same thing could be said of Pryce.

To 31 Oct at Liverpool Everyman, then Bath Theatre Royal from 2 to 7 Nov

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