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"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

April 2017

Directed by: David Hemsley-Brown
Design by: David Hemsley-Brown
Lighting and Sound by: Alex Lyon
Cast: Paul Halliwell, Eddie King, Polly King, Nick Lund, Richard Parish and Derek Watts

For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this production CLICK

"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.

I didn't like the play, let's get that out of the way first. It was a story of horrible people doing and saying horrible things with no slightest sign of anything like conscience or remorse. I wasn't sure what the celebrated Mr. Pinter was trying to say, except that people can be horrible.
With that said, it's testimony to the strength of the performers that I was riveted throughout. As usual with Lighted Fools, the first glimpse of the set showed evidence of the love and attention to detail that promises satisfying theatre, and as usual, they didn't disappoint.
From the very first line, the central figure, the odious Max, played by Richard Parish impressed one relentlessly with a picture of someone utterly self-absorbed, cruel and capricious. With his lower lip sticking out over his nasty string vest in later scenes, he seemed to be challenging the entire world to what would be a very dirty fight.
One got the unshakeable impression that he had molested his sons, all of whom seem afraid of him, even the self-assured Lenny, played by Nick Lund, who we think is a pretty experienced wide-boy, street-smart and tough. Probably not as tough as Joey, the wannabe boxer, though. Eddie King did a great job with a dominating physical presence coupled with the childlike body language of the intellectually challenged. Completing the initial foursome is the utterly unmenacing, almost feminised character of Sam, the uncle played with great style and subtlety by Derek Watts. Between them they did a perfect job of preparing us for the explosive arrival of the 'homecomers'.
I said 'explosive' but Polly King's first appearance silhouetted in the doorway had a great physical stillness, and her first words in a gentle, quiet voice portrayed someone flattened by life. This made her slow but unstoppable rise to complete dominance all the more effective. Every move of hers was completed with the grace of a ballerina, and somewhat stole the rest of the show.
But one still watched with horrified fascination as her poor husband (the excellent Paul Halliwell) was subjected to the kind of psychological torture I meant to imply when I said it was a horrible story. You would have needed to be in the audience to get the full force of it, and if you weren't, take my word for it - these were the kind of performances that make for that very best of theatrical experiences - the kind that are the first thing you think about on waking the next morning.
The cast were so powerful that I'm afraid they rather overpowered the sound and lighting, but they do say that if you didn't notice those things, then they did their job properly. The whole crew deserve every congratulation for making a first-class job of a difficult and challenging piece.
I think Lighted Fools deserves to be a company whose shows you go to see just because it's them.

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!


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.

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