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From The CriticsAn old bum receives shelter in a cluttered room of an abandoned house. His samaritan is a gentle young man whose kindness is so casual that he seems almost indifferent. Dirty, tattered, unkempt, itching and scratching, the tramp is by turns wheedling, truculent and full of bravado…He speaks the proud lingo of those who have untold resources awaiting them at near-by havens. He pronounces his meager phrases with the exaggerated precision of one unaccustomed to being heeded. He flails a fist into a palm or into the air with the belligerence of a fighter no one will ever corner. He associates himself with fastidious practices like soap as if they were his daily habit. He is very funny—at first. But the laughter shades increasingly into pity. Like a cornered animal, he cannot believe that anyone means to be kind to him…He hates foreigners. He trusts no one, and fears everyone. He alienates the two brothers who separately have offered him a job as caretaker of the premises. Their offers and the job itself become themes with subtle overtones. Aston, the samaritan, lives in personal and emotional isolation, tinkering with gadgets and dreaming of building a shed out in the yard. And Mick, who carries on like a man of affairs, inhabits a dream world that resembles an extrovert's nightmares. Mr. Pinter has been vehement in his assertions that his play is no more than the story it tells. But he cannot prevent his audiences from finding in it a modern parable to derisive scorn and bitter sorrow.
—The New York Times