Timothy West in “The Handyman”
Another Great play I went to see back in the 1990s at Mold Theatre North Wales. Timothy West a faultless Actor who gives 💯 both in Theatre and Television.
The Handyman first staged in 1996, when there was a new wave of prosecutions against elderly war criminals, because of a change in the law.
The play has been revived (with a new ending by Harwood) and is starting a national tour, starting at Mold’s Clwyd Theatr Cymru, with Timothy West as Romka, a Ukrainian gardener-cook, whose World War II past catches up with him, 50 years on.
It sounds heavy — it’s not.
There’s a lightness of touch, bringing in humour when needed. Oscar-winning Harwood’s previous works include The Pianist, The Dresser and The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, all potentially heavy subjects softened with humour.
Romka has lived in Sussex for five decades, coming to the UK to help care for a disabled British intelligence major he met in a PoW camp. Maybe because the officer shared his Catholic religion, maybe because Romka revealed the regiment’s secrets, maybe simply because he was good at cooking and pushing wheelchairs.
He’s been the family’s cook, gardener and handyman through those years, and helped raise the major’s daughter Cressida (Caroline Langrishe). To her, he’s a father figure there’s a touch of the Ibsen about this play, the elderly servant who runs the household but whose past finally catches up with him.