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The Caretaker comes to Riverside…

Nicholas Papademetriou chats to us about Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker

We caught up with Nicholas Papademetriou, who is playing the title role of the Caretaker, Davies, in The Caretaker by Harold Pinter. We asked him what audiences can expect from our first staging of a Harold Pinter play at Riverside…

1/ Riverside has never staged a Harold Pinter play before, what can everyone expect? 

I think they can expect to be absolutely surprised by this amazing work. It’s completely mesmerising how the play unfolds as the three characters duck and weave through their relationship. The humour in it is unexpected and very funny and then all at once the play dives into very dark territory – so audiences can expect dramatic thrills full of twists and turns.

Nicholas Papademetriou as Davies

2/ What would you say are the main themes that present themselves throughout the course of the play? 

For me the biggest theme in the play is a desperate desire to fit in and to find a connection with another person. And the lengths these characters will go to as they search out a place in society. It’s a very potent quest because we all want to find a place of solace place – a place where we feel we belong.

3/ What challenges do you face as an actor when you’re performing work by such an iconic playwright?

The challenges for me are always the same: to be absolutely truthful to the script and to the character that I am playing. To make them real and honest and yet bring that sense of theatricality that engages and entertains as well as asks people to consider what is being offered to them on a much deeper level. And yes, of course, the more iconic the play and the role the more difficult it is because the anticipation is much higher. I play the title role and of course this role has been played by many of the greats in theatre. So the pressure is on! And the anticipation of what I deliver as an actor is pretty stressful.

4/ The characters in this play come across as quite misunderstood and dark, can you explain the world of the play to us?

I actually think the characters in the play only come across as misunderstood if they are not played correctly. Certainly we may disagree with what they are and what they represent as people but we should never be in doubt about what motivates them. Definitely though it is a dark world and they are dark people. It’s important to remember the context of this play when it was written. England was still in post-war shock and a wave of immigrants was challenging the status quo in a way it never had before. In this latter regard we are looking at a very parallel situations given what is happening all around the world with the movement of migrants.

5/ Tell us about your character in The Caretaker, how you relate to them (or don’t)…

Well this is a little difficult because I love this character! Despite the fact that he is really quite unsavoury he’s a joy to inhabit every night. He’s racist, bigoted, dishonest, violent, dirty, rude, manipulative and ungrateful. But I just think he’s terrific. He does have a sort of grubby charm. LOL. He’s a man driven by desperation; a man who has lived by his wit and his charm all his life but now that everything about him is decaying he can no longer rely on any of the tricks from his past and he needs to find safe harbour any way he can. I can definitely relate to this aspect of the character. We all want find peace. On a gentler level I’m not quite as aggressive or grumpy but I’m certainly heading in the direction of irritable old man!

5 Rapid Fire Fun Questions:

1/ Who is your doppelganger?

A fellow who works as a bank teller in Nicosia apparently. That’s the closest I will come to large sums of money.

2/ Most hilarious thing about being an actor?

The different roles:  in November I was Sigmund Freud; in December I was a drag queen running the Underworld and now I’m this crazy old Welsh tramp.

3/ Favourite quote from a play… ever?

Agh- too many to choose from but I do like this one from Harvey by Mary Chase:

“I’ve wrestled with the reality most of my life and I’m happy to state that I finally won out over it.”

4/ If you could eat one food only for the rest of your life what would it be?

Coconut Gelato

5/ Biggest inspiration?

Great talent has always inspired me to reach those same heights.

The Caretaker opens at Riverside Thursday 21 February – 23 February 2019.

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