Pinter’s The Homecoming celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, yet its controversial nature and themes of dominance and misogyny prove to be just as powerful this century. Jamie Lloyd’s terrific revival compels us constantly, with a stellar cast and lighting design both conveying the perfect level of intensity to bring Pinter’s classic to life.
Pinter tackles your typical family dynamic, presenting Ruth and her husband Teddy who return from America to London to face his brutally misogynistic family for the first time in six years. A lack of family compassion drives the story forward, with Ruth both the victim yet the nucleus to the drama. Lloyd challenges this family dynamic heads on, staging these beautiful detailed tableaus to contrast the excruciating awkwardness within the power struggle. If this production happened to be just mime, the storyline would be communicated just as effectively.
What makes Lloyd’s production incredibly watchable is the pace of action. Pinter is known well for his pauses in between dialogue, but whilst the language can become simplistic at times, the vocal phrasing from the entire ensemble remains intriguing throughout. John Simm, in particular, is truly fantastic, with crisp delivery in every line spoken and an intense clarity kept consistent. Gemma Chan should also be praised for her impeccable vocal delivery, whilst keeping a coolness in her facial expressions too.
Also worth mentioning is Richard Howell’s, quite frankly, stunning lighting design. Richly detailed with an intensity in its tempo that never fails to shock us between each scene, it heightens the chaotic family dynamic further, cinematic at times.
Fifty years on, Pinter’s writing still has a deep impact on us. Misogyny, trust, the shift from one family to another — these themes remain truly harrowing today. But beneath the chaotic storyline lies a coolness in Lloyd’s direction and an emphasis on keeping a compelling pace throughout the duration by the cast’s vocal delivery and lighting design. Whilst some scenes inThe Homecoming are uncomfortably tense at times, it is truly watchable.
Reviewed by Barry O’Reilly
Photo: Marc Brenner
The Homecoming is playing at the Trafalgar Studios until 13 February 2016. Click here for tickets