The Caretaker | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Caretaker, Faces Like Swords Theatre Company, at Chopin Theatre. It's peculiar that two of the three characters in Harold Pinter's sinister masterwork say they never dream, since the play they're in is dreamlike, fragmentary, and vaguely ominous. It chronicles an attempted takeover by a mysterious outsider: Davies, an opportunistic, racist codger looking for shelter and security, is taken in by Aston, a taciturn tinkerer who connects with people only through kindness, not talk, and who makes Davies a caretaker. Aston's sadistic and sarcastic brother, Mick, has his own plans for Davies. Initially craven, the caretaker becomes arrogantly ungrateful, a twisted, abusive surrogate father who plays one brother against the other until he overreaches.

In a promising debut, this troupe, formerly members of Urbana's Celebration Company, crackles with menace, punctuating the dialogue with maddening pauses that suggest darker discoveries. Director Jarrett Dapier plays Mick with an intensity even Davies can't connive against. Dave Stinton's straightforward line readings don't suggest Aston's inner damage, but he fully registers the character's isolation. And Gary Ambler's wheedling Davies is shuffling, sinister hostility masquerading as humility. His eyes couldn't be hungrier, his hands more grasping as he suggests every whining loser who spends much more energy shirking than he ever would working.

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