The Homecoming at Trafalgar Studios
Director Jamie Lloyd delivers an exceptional production for the 50th anniversary of the award winning play by Harold Pinter, The Homecoming.
Set in the aggressive, darker side of the swinging 60s, the production opens on Teddy (Gary Kemp) returning from his academic life in America to introduce his wife Ruth (Gemma Chan) to his dysfunctional North London family. What follows is a tournament of one-upmanship and sexual exploits as Teddy’s brothers Lenny (John Simm) and Joey (John Macmillan), Uncle Sam (Keith Allen) and father (Ron Cook) dance over each other to demonstrate their masculinity to the sexually prominent Ruth and integrate her within the family. As the play progresses so does Ruth, turning her back on her rigid academic life by embracing and asserting her sexual power over the men.
The Homecoming is a highly sinister family drama; exchanging civil niceties around a table can quickly transgress to a vicious slanging match so over-exaggerated in offense it becomes admirable in wit and humour.
Gemma Chan gives a controlled and simplified performance as Ruth, balancing the hyper-realism of the other characters. With ease, Chan portrays a woman objectified yet in control, as she steps in to complete a womanless family.
John Simm is excellent as Lenny, easily demonstrating, behind the flimsy upbeat mask, the unpleasant character underneath – a dichotomy Simm delivers in each scene with the controlled frantic energy he brings to most of his work. Cook plays an apt domineering father, one whose power is flailing in a testosterone-fuelled household. Allen provides a vein of comedic relief to the dark storyline unfolding on the stage with his cheeky portrayal of Uncle Sam.
Jamie Lloyd’s production plays with the structure of Pinter’s play, complementing a staccato dialogue plagued with “Pinter pauses” with his production. He creates the illusion of chaos through heightened instrumentals and disorientating lighting to plunge the viewer into the frenetic tensions insidiously waiting in each scene.
It loses pace in the first half; many elongated, linear scenes with the onus totally on the actor allow the energy to dip in parts, however the momentum picks up in act two with a more choreographed second set, which uses the stage to its full potential.
A fantastic edition of Pinter’s witty game-changing masterpiece.
The Homecoming is on at Trafalgar Studios from 14th November 2015 until 13th February 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch a trailer for The Homecoming here: