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The Caretaker is the first show in a Festival season to be directed by our Artistic Director Justin Audibert. He tells us what drew him to this play, what he’s looking forward to about directing an iconic Harold Pinter drama and what you can look forward to about this show…

What drew you to directing The Caretaker as your first Festival season show at CFT?

The Caretaker is such an amazing play that slowly builds a knot of tension in the audience. It’s gripping and dynamic and also incredibly funny - one minute you’re laughing and the next you’re really questioning whether you should have laughed at all. An important part of what we do here at CFT is stage classic revivals, as well as brilliant new work. The Caretaker is a play with an enormous heritage yet it’s raw, shocking and powerful. It changed the face, shape and nature of British playwriting and theatre.

How does The Caretaker fit into the season and the themes that inspired it?

When programming the Festival season, I wanted to celebrate the two different spaces at CFT in a meaningful way. The Festival Theatre is a space for big spectacle, big ideas and public discussion where the audience should feel a part of the conversation. In the Minerva, we’re leaning into the intimacy, claustrophobia and tension of the space. It should feel like you’re in a room you’re not supposed to be in.

The themes of the outsider and Englishness run through the whole season. The Caretaker is about three outsiders who are brought to life in vivid three-dimension. It’s a play that exploded the possibilities of what, and who, could be on the stage. These are three characters who are all from the margins of society, with complex inner lives and emotions. They’re drifters and they’re troubled, they’re not life’s winners.

What are you most looking forward to about directing this show?

This is a great play starring three really brilliant actors. I do love making really big plays but I am looking forward to going back to basics with this one. This really is a play about what three characters want: we delve into the subtext and the psychological motivations of these characters to live in their world.

I’m looking forward to working with an amazing creative team on this production. Stephen Brimson Lewis, the designer, worked with Harold Pinter himself. Pinter is incredibly prescriptive with his stage directions. We have designed the show according to the stage directions, but we will make new discoveries outside of the text along the way. Nobody in a Pinter play ever says what they mean. And the play was written for a proscenium arch stage but the joy for our audience is that they will feel like they’re in the attic room with the three characters, thanks to the intimacy of the Minerva Theatre.

Can you remember first seeing or reading Harold Pinter’s work? What was that experience like?

It was reading The Birthday Party. I had never felt such pressure from the words in a play before. All of the violence is verbal and the words have so much power.

What should excite our audiences about this production?

It will feel like a thriller… you won’t know what’s going to happen from moment to moment. The audience see three brilliant performers playing three mercurial characters and experience the world of the play from each different perspective. I hope you’ll come away saying: ‘wow, that was gripping!’. The Caretaker delivers humour, menace and beauty.

Visit the show page to book your tickets. You can hear more from Justin about The Caretaker in his Free Pre-Show Talk, too.