Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater.
Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character play in which silences can be as potent (and at times more revealing) as the words used to cajole, intimidate and deceive.
The two Pinter productions have several things in common: staging by artistic director Stuart Meltzer, who works the playwright’s rhythms as though he were conducting a chamber piece; chameleonic actor Nicholas Richberg, the charismatic adulterer Jerry in “Betrayal” and the damaged Aston in “The Caretaker;” and overall excellence in exploring pieces by a masterful playwright whose work isn’t often professionally produced in South Florida.
“The Caretaker” is set in a cluttered west London flat occupied by Aston (Richberg), a man who spends his days scavenging in the neighborhood and his nights thinking about a shed he plans to build out back. Although Aston goes about wearing a coat, tie, sweater vest and too-short trousers, as though he were headed to an office, something about him is off. Closed off emotionally, at times fishing for the right words, Aston is a forever-altered version of his former self. How that happened is revealed in a powerful, emotionally devastating monologue.
His opposite number is Davies (David Kwiat), a homeless man Aston has rescued from a bar fight and brought home with him. Davies, who uses the pseudonym “Bernard Jenkins” for reasons he never quite explains, is thin as a reed but outsized in every other way. Garrulous, particular in his expectations, blatantly racist, critical and calculating, Davies is also so filthy you fear you might catch something just from looking at him.
The third corner of the triangle is Aston’s brother Mick (Daniel Capote), who sneaks up on Davies while Aston is out and scares the living daylights out of the old tramp. A handyman/contractor who lives elsewhere, Mick isn’t a great deal larger than Davies, but he’s intimidating in every way – physically, verbally, emotionally. Improbably (but this is, after all, theater of the absurd), both Aston and Mick separately offer Davies a job as caretaker of the building. Mick, however, also intends for Davies to be his brother’s keeper.
Meltzer gets finely calibrated work from the three actors, who are equally adept at getting laughs (as when they take turns snatching a bag from each other, as though they were playing a reverse game of hot potato) and illuminating the play’s darker threads (those include deliberate cruelty, ingratitude, being mired in the stasis of life and the sometimes horrific treatment of those with mental problems).
Kwiat, a Carbonell Award-winning South Florida actor, gives one of the finest performances of his long career in “The Caretaker.” His Davies can turn from whimsical to demanding on a dime, and once the brothers’ patience with him has worn thin, his plaintive tone as he wails “but what about me” will make you laugh with disbelief.
In addition to his spellbinding delivery of Aston’s major monologue, Richberg makes the most of a role with many reactive moments. Watch his face when Davies weaponizes information about the most terrible thing to happen to Aston. It speaks silent volumes.
Capote’s Mick is an energized whirlwind. Whether lurking in the dark or dealing with Davies’ attempts to turn him against Aston, Capote seems about to detonate even when Mick is pretending to be amiable.
The Pinteresque world that the Zoetic team has created for “The Caretaker” embraces absurdism as well as realism.
Michael McClain has created a striking flat fit for an orderly hoarder; Aston clearly knows where everything is, but objects and furniture are piled floor to ceiling along the back wall. Rebecca Montero’s lighting suggests the chill that makes Davies crazy at night, and it bathes Aston in golden light as he shares the story of his tarnished past.Fernando Calzadilla’s costume design, particularly the ragged filthy layers in which he dresses Davies, underscore class and circumstance. Meltzer also contributes the sound design – listen to a single drop of water falling into a bucket hung from the ceiling – and layered original a capella music in collaboration with Jeni Hacker.
Along with the just-opened production of Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” at Palm Beach Dramaworks, South Florida theater lovers who appreciate the work of great British playwrights now have the chance for a deep dive into Pinter’s resonant, provocative world.Zoetic’s “The Caretaker” brings that world into sharp, entertaining focus.
‘The Caretaker’ by Harold Pinter, Zoetic Stage production in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, through April 16. Cost:$50 and $55; 305-949-6722 or www.arshtcenter.org.
“What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to not want to belong?” These are questions that choreographer Reggie Wilson contemplates in his provocative piece “CITIZEN,“ which makes its M..
If even a modicum of redemption can be forged from the hellish after-effects of gun violence, we must listen to the communities most affected by the violence. To this end, “Trigger,” a hip-ho..
Celebrating 35 years is an amazing achievement for any dance company in Miami, but especially one founded in a decade better known for its ties to drugs than to the arts. Momentum Dance Compa..
For Tigertail Productions, April is the month of fire. Like their WATER Festival in 2016, this month’s FIRE Festival celebrates a single element in multiple art forms, including dance, visual..
During the month of April the organizers of the seventh iteration of the O Miami Poetry Festival intend every resident of Miami Dade county to encounter a poem or – even better – write one! An..
As the “home-grown” sweetheart of Miami City Ballet, Patricia Delgado is having her final performances this season before leaving the city and the company she loves to move to New York City.H..
Even people who can’t find Argentina on a map and believe tangos only happen in Paris know La Cumparsita’s iconic four beat opening. Like a bar’s last call, La Cumparsita tells tango dancers ..
Miami City Ballet will conclude its season this week with a rich selection of repertory pieces: two from Balanchine, in very expressive but distinct modes, and one from modern-dance master Pa..
Ballet Flamenco La Rosa’s studio evokes the feel of a tablao in Spain. The strumming of the guitar, the rapid-fire rhythms of footwork against the floor, and the soft voice of the singer reac..
Miami choreographer Augusto Soledade has been a fixture in the local dance world since he arrived here in 2004. His cast has shifted over the years and he continues to challenge himself artis..
In one duet, two dancers use their bodies as counterweights, springing forth from each other’s bodies with explosive power. In another, dancers form a sharp line before torsos undulate and fa..
Teacher, choreographer and activist Dale Andree is known for her ability to merge activism with dance. Andree founded and directs National Water Dance, a site-specific project that joins danc..
In 2016, Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance company crossed their 25-year mark. To celebrate, the company returns to Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts with a 25th anniversary..
From singers like Joan Baez to poets like Maya Angelou to anonymous knitters of pink pussy hats, creative women have played an essential role in this country as agitators and activists. Likew..
When Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) takes the stage this weekend, it will present a program rich in the cultural milieu of Miami. Co-founders Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra i..
It is an awe-inspiring experience to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform. They are well trained dancers, athletes and artists. Not often known is that some of the dance..
Back for an 8th season in Miami, the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater packs the house every year. With Liberty City hometown hero Robert Battle in his fifth year, we have many rea..
Awash in sunlight, around 50 women stand in a circle on the rooftop performance space of Casa Gaia in Old Havana, Cuba, as part of a belly-dance festival. Biodanza facilitator Karen Rodríguez..
Choreographer Jeanguy Saintus works primarily from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but his creative work has global appeal. He is a pioneering artist who blends Haiti’s traditional music and dance alo..
New life for a legacy ballet—a veritable choreographer-magnet—created a great buzz about Miami City Ballet’s third program this season. But at the Arsht Center for the Performing ..
Who doesn’t delight in fairies? Miami City Ballet, for the success of its third program of the season, is certainly banking on one. And, instead of wielding a magic wand, she comes eager to p..
Transgendered performance artist Scott Turner Schofield is a collector of stories. Growing up in the South, the tales that were told about the gay and trans community were the ugliest kind of..
The Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores is giving experimental dancer-choreographer Lazaro Godoy the opportunity to interweave his visual arts and performance passions in ArMOUR, a multimedi..
The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet artistic director Tom Mossbrucker and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty have thrilled audiences world wide with stimulating and exciting performances, and Miam..
The future came a long time ago. That impression arose in two forward-pointing yet decades-old company premieres on Miami City Ballet’s second program of the season. In the opening performanc..
Tigertail’s ScreenDance Miami festival is now in its fourth year. One of the few festivals in the country dedicated solely to movement for film and video, ScreenDance aims high. The goal: a f..
The white walls and well-trod floor of a light-pierced studio at Miami City Ballet enclose a charmed space—a field of incalculable energy—as sets of coupled dancers rehearse, in q..
This year’s TransAtlantic Festival features local dance music stars, a Malian guitarist known as “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” and something unique: a Haitian rara band comprised entirely of women...
If the political movement that saw its birth after the November elections is in the market for a composer to set the score for its many marches, Frederic Rzewski might be a strong contender f..
In a combo that promises to be both sublime and rip-roaring, three generations of Cuban and Cuban diaspora musicians come together this Saturday at The Miami-Dade County Auditorium to celebra..
Despite an end to the “wet foot, dry foot” policy and other changes in the Florida-Cuba dynamic, Global Cuba Fest 2017 will continue to satiate the souls of South Floridians with a month-long..
Guitarist, composer and producer Josemi Carmona embodies the spirit of Nuevo Flamenco. Rooted firmly in tradition, he has proven a restless, curious artist, ignoring the boundaries of genres ..
Following an intense National YoungArts Week, the signature program held annually in Miami, YoungArts is proud to announce their 2017 regional programs that will expand the offerings from New..
Seduced by the jazz in his dad’s music collection, a kid from Perth, Western Australia, takes up the saxophone at age 13. He grows up, moves to the United States and becomes a star. Dreams do..
Half way through his set at the North Beach Bandshell, singerDavid Crosby (http://www.davidcrosby.com/), 75, who has been to a festival or two in his illustrious career, paused between songs..
Florida in February has its own magic: gorgeous light, cooler temperatures, clear skies and soft sea breezes. Now, imagine those breezes carrying the moaning strains of Esperanza Spalding’s b..
No hay que viajar a otro país para disfrutar en vivo de la música cubana del momento, la más innovadora, la que le da la vuelta al mundo. Basta con asistir a Global Cuba Fest, aquí mismo, en ..
Nadie como el bailarín y coreógrafo español Antonio Gades para describir el arte que lo hizo internacionalmente famoso cuando vivía: “Un extracto de fuego y de veneno, eso es el flamenco”. ..
Desde Las troyanas de Eurípides hasta “Guernica” de Picasso, o de la canción “Blowing in the Wind” de Bob Dylan al diseño de las gorras rosadas que llevaron miles de mujeres en las protestas ..
En un discurso de 1977, el escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges desmintió la idea de que la ceguera fuera un mundo de oscuridad cuando describió su propia “modesta ceguera”. Hablaba de ciert..
En su discurso de recibimiento del Premio Nobel, el poeta chileno Pablo Neruda afirmó que el poeta no es un "pequeño dios." De hecho expresó que el mejor poeta “es el hombre que nos entrega e..
En la cultura yoruba, y sobre todo en sus manifestaciones caribeñas como la afrocubana, las historias contadas oralmente por generaciones ocupan un lugar esencial. Esas historias, muchas de e..
En la serie artística Out in the Tropics, la tarima no discrimina, la sensibilidad de los intérpretes es inclusiva y todo público es bienvenido. Producción de la entidad local sin fines d..
El flamenco es una música de fusión. La tradición es de sobrevivencia, de cambio constante y adaptación al lugar y los tiempos. Mientras el sonido puede ser diferente, el espíritu de Nuevo Fl..
La problemática del cambio climático está que arde. Sobre todo en un estado como la Florida, en primera fila para sufrir consecuencias drásticas. Llegar al público con este mensaje e inspirar..