"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. "
(Macbeth: Act V Scene V)
'The Homecoming' by Harold Pinter
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"This is one of Pinter's greatest plays. It is about men who were born into an oppressively claustrophobic family culture but who are both motherless and fatherless." (The Sunday Times)
"Pinter's play operates on any number of levels; as realistic drama, family comedy and mythical study of female empowerment." (The Guardian)
After nine years as professor of philosophy in America, eldest son Teddy returns to his North London family home with his wife Ruth. As his foul-mouthed father and low-life brothers battle to impress her, Ruth appears to find herself strangely at home and Teddy's grip on her loosens. Familial rivalry explodes into a violent assault on moral and sexual order in Pinter's funniest and darkest play.
'Sardines' Magazine REVIEW OF 'THE HOMECOMING' by NIGEL DAMS
It took Harold Pinter only six weeks to write The Homecoming but four years, from licence application to performance, for Lighted Fools Theatre Company to bring the play to its fan base.
Is there any more symbolism in the timescales than within the play itself? Well, probably only if you want there to be and so it may seem with Pinter's classic. And was the four year wait worth it? You bet it was!
The Homecoming was written in Worthing not so far away from Guildford's Mill Studio where it has played to capacity audiences - a tribute to the growing status of the Lighted Fools.
A story of violence and sex, innuendo and unhappiness, the play has elicited hidden meanings from critics and theatregoers alike since it was written more than fifty years ago.
Does the missing rear wall in the sitting room refer to the absence of a long dead wife and mother as has been suggested for example? Who knows?
In a male-dominated environment, father Max, brother Sam and sons, Lenny, Joey and Teddy - the return of stay away Teddy with wife Ruth turns the unhappy and deeply depressing status quo upside down as the lone female comes to dominate the 1960's household. But you probably know the plot!
Hats off then to the ‘Fools’ for an enthralling performance from company stalwart Nick Lund as a really nasty Lenny, the pimp; to another regular Derek Watts, the put-down Sam the chauffeur; to Paul Halliwell the weak husband Teddy; to company newcomer Eddie King as Joey, would-be boxer and subservient demolition man and, of course, to Polly King for the mysterious Ruth.
But if one has to single out any one performance in David Hemsley-Brown's cleverly directed play, it has to be the ‘Fools’ founder, Richard Parish, as the family patriarch Max.
A more loathsome character you could not wish for and Richard, who most of us know in other more relaxed roles in the neighbourhood, transformed himself into a grotesque, spittle spraying monster, lower lip projecting, facially fearsome and thoroughly believable. Let's hope he didn't model Max on anybody he knows!
And, in the end, did you feel any pity for Max or any of the sons for that matter, as they sought redemption and love in one form or another from his newly discovered daughter-in-law. And who was Ruth before she married Teddy? Did she marry him to escape a suggestive past and, if so, why was she so prepared to apparently slip back into it - on her terms of course -now she had ‘come home’!
Can real people live like this? There are plenty of sordid tales around to suggest so - particularly since The Homecoming was penned in 1964. But should we read too much into the play or simply applaud Lighted Fools for another job well done?
You have to remind yourselves that the players are non-professional actors and so to end this review it is interesting to note that the last time we saw one particular member of the company that person was operating on my wife's toe in the ‘real’ world! Now read the symbolism into that!
COMMENTS FROM OUR AUDIENCE ON 'THE HOMECOMING'
What an outstanding production!
Both black and morally dubious. We liked it!
What a wonderful performance last evening.
We thought everyone gave truly professional performances.
WOW - what a tour de force!
You were all absolutely brilliant.
It was so well directed and played by all the cast.
What a repulsive character Max was. The mouth was a touch of brilliance then the expressive hands on the arms of the chair - there were so many things which made it a brilliant characterisation that I don't know what else I can say.
Set was up to usual high standard.
I felt the smoking was integral to the piece and that the wafting drew me into the room.
Very well cast; believable characters.
Some great facial expressions from everyone.
God, the old man was ‘orrible!
I had great sympathy for the sons.
What a fabulous evening!
Interesting combination of nasty yet vulnerable from Lenny.
Play needed the normality of Sam although his normality itself was bizarre - the whole thing was!
Ruth was an intriguing character.
It was truly a wonderful production, most enjoyable with a great set to boot and evocative music.
I reckon when Pinter wrote this play he woke up one morning and just wrote down his dream from the night before!
I could go on and on about this play - loved it!
I have to admit that I didn’t particularly like the actual play but at the same time I’m glad I’ve seen it although I wouldn’t necessarily put myself out in order to see it again!
We thought everyone gave truly professional performances.
Max succeeded in portraying from the beginning to end that he wasn’t a very nice old man.
Enjoyed tonight - well done all!
I’m sure you will know what I mean when I say that it is without doubt an actor’s play.
The cast were, as always, excellent.
You excelled yourselves yet again!
What a horrid old man Max was.
We both very much enjoyed the evening and it certainly gave us a great deal to think about.
The play was a very good choice for the company as each actor was utterly believable in their role.
Thank you for both an entertaining and an intellectually stimulating evening.
I’m so glad that I don’t count Max as being a friend of mine!
We found the play really interesting and superbly presented: we were still discussing it the following day, and the great performances will live long in the memory.
What a gruesome play. I think it was probably more gruesome because everyone was so good and believable that we were completely involved.
Not nice people but very believable.
The end did leave us all with a lump in our throats.
Already diaried the next production!
Thoroughly enjoyed the play and outstanding performances. So looking forward to the next production 'Morecambe'
Another quality evening spent with Lighted Fools - looking forward to the next.