When an elderly tramp is given lodging in the derelict home of two brothers, the ensuing relationships and shifting alliances intensify with hilarious and unsettling consequences in Harold Pinter’s great psychological drama, The Caretaker. Featuring John Kuntz as Aston, Michael Balcanoff as Davies, and Joe Lanza as Mick and directed by Daniel Gidron, The Nora Theatre Company presents The Caretaker from Thursday, October 1 through Sunday, November 1 at Central Square Theater.
The Nora brings to life The Caretaker in celebration of the recently deceased Harold Pinter, who has been described as “the most original, disturbing, and arresting talent” and “the most influential, provocative, and poetic dramatist of his generation.” Pinter’s masterful use of dialogue and subtle blending of tragedy and comedy made The Caretaker his first commercial success, a turning point in a career that would ultimately span more than five decades. All told, Pinter authored more than 30 plays and dozens of screenplays and teleplays. He was also a director and an actor, sometimes for his own work but often for others’, including memorable roles in the1999 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and a sold-out 2006 run of Samuel Beckett’s one-man play, Krapp’s Last Tape, while he was battling cancer. Pinter considered Beckett a friend and mentor, and his own influence on a younger generation of playwrights, including David Mamet in the United States and Patrick Marber and Jez Butterworth in his native England, is clear. Leading British theater away from drawing room gentility in the 1950s, Pinter explored the tense but often darkly comedic underpinnings of interpersonal and political power plays. A pacifist and conscientious objector, he became more politically outspoken in his later plays, as well as in his 2005 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. In continued exploration of the distinguished life of Harold Pinter, audiences will have the opportunity to discuss the play with special guests and the artists after select performances of The Caretaker.
John Kuntz (Aston) last appeared with The Nora in How I Got That Story, in which he played 20 characters, and in Mere Mortals, in roles ranging from Renoir to a mayfly. He is a founding company member of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, where he has been seen in Much Ado About Nothing, Titus Andronicus, Measure for Measure, All’s Well That Ends Well, and the title role in Richard III, among others. NY credits include The Bad Seed (Ohio Theatre), Kurt in Jump/Rope (which he also wrote) with Square Peg Productions at Urban Stages, and his one-person shows Starfuckers (Ohio Theatre and NY Fringe) and Freaks! (Solo Arts Group). Other Boston credits include Copenhagen and the world premiere of The Communist Dracula Pageant at the American Repertory Theater, as well as roles in productions at The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, New Repertory Theatre, Company One, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, and the Huntington Theatre Company. His film work includes The Red Right Hand and Anathema (Best Actor Award – Festival Du Cinema du Bruxelles). John is the author of 14 full-length plays, including the award winning Sing Me to Sleep and Freaks! (both winners of the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Fringe Production), Starfuckers (Elliot Norton Award and New York International Fringe Festival Award), and Jasper Lake (the Michael Kanin and Paula Vogel National Playwriting Awards). He was an inaugural Playwriting Fellow with the Huntington Theatre Company and a Fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Center in 2007. He teaches at Suffolk University and is on the faculty of The Boston Conservatory.
Michael Balcanoff played Gayev in The Nora’s world premiere translation of The Cherry Orchard during the company’s inaugural season at Central Square Theater last year. He has also been seen recently at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater in What Then and Proof. Other credits include: Twelfth Night (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Good Woman of Setzuan, Archangels Don’t Play Pinball, and Gillette (American Repertory Theater); Ah, Wilderness! (Huntington Theatre Company); King of the Jews (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); The Night of the Iguana (New Repertory Theatre); The Price (Gloucester Stage Company); and Entertaining Mr. Sloan (The Lyric Stage Company of Boston).
The Caretaker marks Joe Lanza’s debut with The Nora Theatre Company. Local credits include The Pain and the Itch (Company One), Skylight (Merrimack Repertory Theatre), The History Boys and Jerry Springer: The Opera (SpeakEasy Stage Company), How Many Miles to Basra? (Stoneham Theatre), The Wind in the Willows (Gloucester Stage Company), The Diary of Anne Frank (New Rep On Tour), A New Brain (Metro Stage Company) and Butley (Huntington Theatre Company). Joe studied abroad at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and he holds a BFA in Acting from Boston University’s School of Theatre.
Daniel Gidron, The Nora Theatre Company’s Associate Director, directed The Cherry Orchard with Michael Balcanoff and We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! for the company at Central Square Theater last season. An IRNE Award nominee for Best Director, Drama, Small Theater for the company’s 2007 production of Buried Child, he has directed 15 productions for The Nora including Mere Mortals and How I Got That Story with John Kuntz, The Unexpected Man, Smelling a Rat, the world premiere of Richard McElvain’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Full Gallop, among others. He has also directed for many other companies such as The Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Shakespeare & Company and Tremont Theatre where his production of Golda’s Balcony won both IRNE and Elliot Norton Awards for Best Solo Performance, Peterborough Players, Jewish Theatre of New England, Shakespeare Now! Theatre Company, Opera Boston, La Mama ETC, Worcester Foothills, Mountain Playhouse and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. In Israel, where he was born, he has directed at Habimah National Theater, Haifa Municipal Theatre, Arab Theatre, Beit Lessin, Dror Theatre and Beersheva Municipal Theatre. He has taught at Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Brandeis University. He currently teaches at UMass Boston.
The Nora welcomes back Elliot Norton Award winner Janie E. Howland (Molly Sweeney, As Bees in Honey Drown) for set design, Jackie Dalley (Antigone, On The Verge, among others) for costume design, IRNE Award winner John Malinowski (The Cherry Orchard, The Man Who, among others) for lighting design, Elliot Norton Award winner Dewey Dellay (We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, Betrayal, Antigone, among others) for sound design and music, and Sacha Shawky (We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!, The Sea Horse, Buried Child, among others) for props coordination.
There will be conversations with special guests, local academics from Harvard University and MIT, and the actors following select performances (see list below). There will also be receptions after select performances, including a post-performance wine tasting sponsored by University Wine.