The Caretaker

1:25 scale model figure of Davies
by the production's designer, Nadya Cohen.

Nadya recalls: " After graduating, I was simultaneously
ecstatic and terrified when Richard asked me to work
with him on The Caretaker for The Royal Exchange.
I still have the 1:25 figures I made of the characters
played by Charlie Drake, Tim McInnery and Jonathan
Hackett and many of the model elements.

Because the sash window may have presented a sight
line problem, it was stripped to the minimum, suspended
from the grid by ropes tied off in bows.
The solution to Charlie pulling the window shut because
of the rain, was made by feeding water along a lagged
pipe which defined the room’s edge and ran up the side
of the window to a sprinkler pipe – the moment of rain
appearing was unexpected, pure magic. As per my
model, a pile of suitcases the right colour and size had
to be found, with a smaller white one on top of a larger
blue one, while the step ladder had to have exactly the
specified number of rungs. The details of each chosen
object had to be duly considered and respected. I learnt
to understand the patina of material, how much history
is lodged and evoked in its wear and tear.

The props buyer from the Exchange told a story of
Richard asking for a male and female ladybird to be placed
on a tent. I don’t know if this was myth or fact, but if
Richard asked for it, there was an absolute truth to his
request, a poetry and need to tell the story in a direct
and engaging way. “No tricks up the sleeve” he used to say.

These reminiscences go back 25 years, yet each show
I work on, Richard remains a central referent. “I wonder
what Richard would say? ”

Richard brought an amazing and uncompromising
tenderness to the design process. This remains his
ongoing legacy to me as a designer and teacher.