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In a small town like Malvern, it is always fantastic to see star-studded casts performing in the local theatre. This week, it is the turn of Harold Pinter’s 1960s masterpiece, The Homecoming. Widely accepted to be his greatest play, the Theatre Royal Bath production currently touring has an appropriately brilliant cast.
About The Homecoming
Harold Pinter paints a bleak picture of a dysfunctional family in The Homecoming. The audience is first introduced to the characters still living in the family home; elderly patriarch Max (Keith Allen) and his sons Lenny (Matthew Horne) and Joey (Geoffrey Lumb), along with Max’s brother Sam, played by Ian Bartholomew. Max’s toxic relationship with his brother and sons is clear from the start. Each character seems to resent the others, with Max struggling to retain the power he clearly had over the family in the past.
Max’s eldest, estranged son Teddy (Sam Alexander) is a university professor who decides to bring his wife Ruth (Shanaya Rafaat) to visit his father. Initially reluctant to stay at the house, Ruth soon becomes intertwined with the family. Complying with their expectations, Ruth finds herself dishing out tea to everyone.
Realising that Ruth has been sucked into the strange family dynamic, Teddy decides it is time to leave. The play then becomes increasingly strange as Lenny and Joey act on their sexual attraction to Ruth and end up persuading her to stay. Teddy assumes an oddly submissive role, accepting that his brothers and dad will get what they want from his wife. He leaves without her.
The Homecoming: Review
Described in two words, The Homecoming is strange and dark. Toxic masculinity, patriarchy, bullying and resentment form an uncomfortable undertone throughout the play. Keith Allen’s performance as a miserable old man is disturbingly convincing. It is clear that where he once controlled the family, he has lost their respect and become a pitiful figure. Matthew Horne was equally noteworthy, with Lenny developing into a more dominant role as the play went on.
Despite the bleak storyline, The Homecoming does have an undertone of dark humour. There is also a worrying relatability to the characters. Whilst none of them are remotely likeable, the audience gets lured into their depraved world. Set entirely in one room, scene changes involve dramatic use of light and dark with sinister results. There is a certain inevitability to the progression of the plot, albeit we are left with more questions than answers by the end.
It is clear to see why The Homecoming is considered to be a modern classic. The Theatre Royal Bath’s interpretation of it is gripping and compelling. Is it pleasant to watch? No. But it is thought provoking, compulsive watching.
What else do you need to know?
- When is The Homecoming at Malvern Theatres? From Monday 18th to Saturday 23rd April 2022. Evening shows start at 7.30 pm each day and matinees are on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30 pm.
- How long does the performance last? Just over two hours including an interval.
- How to book tickets: Tickets are available to book on the Malvern Theatres website.
- Where will The Homecoming be showing next? The Homecoming will be at Leicester Curve from 25th April and Theatre Royal Brighton from 2nd May. The rest of the tour dates and ticketing information are on the Theatre Royal Bath website.
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