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The Homecoming

18th April 2022 - 23rd April 2022

Theatre Royal Bath Productions present Mathew Horne  Keith Allen  Ian Bartholomew

 

THE HOMECOMING by Harold Pinter

Directed by Jamie Glover with Sam Alexander, Geoffrey Lumb, and Shanaya Rafaat

“They’re very warm people, really. Very warm. They’re my family. They’re not ogres”

Harold Pinter’s 1960s masterpiece is widely regarded as his finest play. This bleakly funny exploration of family and relationships has become a modern classic and winner of the Tony Award for Best New Play.

Teddy, a professor in an American university, returns to his childhood home accompanied by his wife, Ruth, to find his father, uncle and brothers still living there. In the subsequent series of encounters, life becomes a barely camouflaged battle for power and sexual supremacy fought out with taut verbal brutality. Who will emerge victorious – the poised and elegant Ruth or her husband’s dysfunctional family?

Star of BBC’s Gavin & StaceyMathew Horne (Death in Paradise, Bad Education)is perfectly cast as Lenny, Teddy’s enigmatic brother. Versatile actor, comedian and musician Keith Allen (The Young Ones, The Pembrokeshire Murders, Pinter 3 in the West End) plays the brutal patriarch, Max. Four-time Olivier Award nominee Ian Bartholomew (Into The Woods, Radio Times, Mrs Henderson Presents, Half a Sixpence, Coronation Street) plays Sam.

Teddy is played by Sam Alexander whose recent TV appearances include Rhys in Emmerdale and on stage The Watsons, (Chichester Festival Theatre), Lady in the Van and Racing Demon (both Theatre Royal Bath). RSC regular Geoffrey Lumb, recently seen in the West End in Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light, plays Joey. Shanaya Rafaat (Around the World in 80 Days at the St James Theatre, Great Expectations at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and BBC’s Doctor Who) plays Ruth.

Designer Liz Ascroft, Lighting Designer Johanna Town, Sound Designer Max Pappenheim, Associate Director Amy Reade, Casting Director Ginny Schiller CDG.

“Fifty years after its London premiere, Harold Pinter’s play continues to puzzle, astonish and delight.” Guardian

“Half a century after it put Harold Pinter at the forefront of British drama, The Homecoming can still leave audiences so provoked, puzzled and pleased” The Times

“One is clearly in the presence of a modern classic” Daily Telegraph

“An excellent night – a man in total command of his talent” Observer

Details

Start:
18th April 2022
End:
23rd April 2022
Event Categories:
, ,

Venue

Festival Theatre
Grange Road
Malvern, WR14 3HB

Other

Price:
Mon - Tues Eves & Wed Mat: £33.60, £31.36, £28.00, £24.64, £21.28
Wed - Thurs Eves & Sat Mat: £35.84, £33.60, £30.24, £26.88, £23.50
Fri & Sat Eves: £38.08, £35.84, £32.48, £29.12, £25.76
£2 Concessions Over 60s / Unwaged
Under 26s £8.96
Members Discounts Apply
(Price includes 12% booking fee)
Show Times:
Monday 18th to Saturday 23rd April
Evenings at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm

Event Reviews

  • The View From The Stalls

    Harold Pinter's The Homecoming certainly portrays a family in need of a few lessons in civility. The play is very much a family affair - Max at its head, with brother Sam and sons Lenny, Joey and Teddy with his wife Ruth completing the ensemble.

    That is the family unit which the cast portray (old man Max played by Keith Allen and well-dressed man-about-town Lenny by Mathew Horne) and, from the beginning, it is clear that there is no love lost between any of them. Indeed, the show starts with Max attempting to have a conversation with Lenny, who basically ignores him. That is not really surprising given the way that we subsequently see the way he speaks to each of his boys. The missing character here is his wife, long since passed away, whom he refers to with a mix of bile and hatred one minute and then, as if a switch had been flicked, love and affection the next. One very curious individual indeed, well played by Allen, hobbling around the stage with a stick and someone who in the past, if the rumours are to believed, was once a man feared by his contemporaries - indeed he injures both Joey (Geoffrey Lumb) and Sam (Ian Bartholomew) during the course of events. His venom is at its worst when son Teddy (Sam Alexander) arrives back unexpectedly from America - accompanied by his wife whom they have never met. Ruth (Shanaya Rafaat) is subjected to a torrent of abusive language and name-calling, with Max believing that she is just a common whore bought into the house by Teddy, even though nothing could be further from the truth. Or could it? She admits to a past life as a "model" before meeting Teddy and simultaneously is set up by the others (excluding Sam, whose own sexuality was brought into question) to become a "working girl" in order to pay for her keep, something which she seems happy to go along with as she despatches her husband back to the States on his own.

    As a family, there is little to redeem any of them and it is hard, in fact, to have any empathy for them at all apart from possibly Sam, whose taxi driving seemed to keep him on the straight and narrow. The fact that daughter-in-law Ruth seems complicit in the arrangements which the family propose makes it all the more unpalatable. They speak to each other in strange, often repetitive, ways as if they are approaching a total stranger which, in some ways, they are. Long pauses (deliberately prescribed by the author) just add to the sense of a family that cannot communicate effectively. There are, fortunately, a few moments of levity which break through this somewhat dismal family affair though these are few and far between. But as Pinter said - "I have never been able to write a happy play" so the audience should not expect one.

    The set itself is quite simple, comprising a few chairs and a table and a stairway leading to the floor above. More impressive is the height of the set with the wallpapered walls disappearing what must be more 30 feet above the stage, which must be a nightmare to erect at each new venue. The lack of furniture concentrates the audience's eye on the acting which, without exception, brings out the nastiness of all of the characters (again, with the exception of Sam, yet even he, at the end, reveals something about Max's wife that no-one knew…).

    This is definitely a production worth seeing and not only for the inclusion of two major names, Allen and Horne. The entire cast add to the feeling that, cigars apart, the family have little connect with each other until a woman comes into their collective lives.

  • Richard Edmonds

    The play is an enigma, it stinks--but in the best dramatic sense, and it has much pentrative thought behind the horror
    Here is human entanglement brought to the edge of infamy, motivation, sexual subjection, harassment
    and humiliation are all given Pinter's scalpel-like treatment as he examines the secret--often appalling
    motivations which lie deep inside every of us.
    This terrifying family is ruled by Max, a crippled, ageing , sneering, mocking ex-butcher patriarch ( played magnificently by Keith Allen).
    There is little that is happy about Max's present condition, except maybe his memories of his dead
    wife, for whom one feels a certain lingering compassion.
    Max writhes with a kind of all-encompassing bilious hatred. He snaps at his sons--particularly
    Lenny (Matthew Horne) an obliquely sinister, suit and formal tie individual, chilly, easily aroused to anger and with a curious
    past. As Lenny eases himself into an autobiographical rant, you are left wondering in the dark of
    the theatre stalls, whether Lenny is a totally deranged or not. Much of what he says, has the whine of an
    anxious child asking for sweeties, but there is the shadowy incident of a man Lenny left for dead. Did Lenny commit murder?
    Another son, Joey ( Geoffrey Lumb) is a gormless, wannabe boxer, maybe a sandwich short of the picnic, saying little but continually
    taking up sparring attitudes, which move his body around body around, but leave his eyes cold.
    Pinter's gallery of misfits is further coloured by Max's meek and mild brother, Sam (Ian Bartholemew)
    who receives a torrent of criticism for being merely a taxi driver.Sam offers little in the way of return for the violence
    heaped upon him and remains the middle-aged whipping boy with an expression that barely changes.
    Again and again, Pinter's acid revelations sear and scar as bitterness and violence push back the perimiters of
    mocking abuse, since in this household, it would appear ,you can praise or deride as the mood takes you. Tensions vibrate into
    violence when Lenny finds his cheese sandwich has been eaten by someone else, rudeness descends swiftly into
    physical confrontation when Max threatens someone with his stick.
    The overriding enigma is why this totally repulsive family could never achieve a happy life. Pinter offers no
    explanations except for the foul sarcasm which erupts from Max, when his third son, a PHd in an American
    university comes home on a visit and presents his curiously un-moved wife Ruth ( Shanaya Rafaat) to his family.
    Their final response to her is to attempt a sexual episode on the sofa, before offering her a room in the house, from whence
    she can operate as a sex worker. It is outrageous and clearly the dark pit which can lie behind the social mask.
    Her husband, Teddy, Sam Alexander, sits apart while this nasty situation is proposed,and his acquiescence in a situation
    which has overtaken him is a remarkable piece of acting.. How Pinter achieves this climax is an amazing piece of constructive dialogue.
    and sets him apart from the rest. Jamie Glover's clever direction is admirable, but I heard scarcely a word from Ms Rafaat for at least half an hour.
    . She must learn to peak out to her audiences, and in a similar way, so must Mr. Alexander--this is real life theatre, and not a television or film studio!
    I recall Pinter's un-called for rage at a dinner given for him after a reading he gave at a Stratford Poetry Festival some years ago.
    The restaurant in Stratford was Marianne's. His partner at that time was Lady Antonia Fraser. Her title did not soften Pinter's outburst.
    Max certainly reflected his creator that night.