The Homecoming

The Lantern Theatre
Written by Harold Pinter
Produced by PurpleCoat Productions
18th April 2013

Reviewed by Victoria Vass

Purple Coat Productions are a home-grown film and theatre group which truly represent the best of the North-West grassroots arts and culture movement. Having already gained the support of Stephen Fry, Sir Ian McKellen, and the Royal Shakespeare Company; they do not shy away from taking on demanding classics, such as Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and Euripides’s Antigone. Their latest production of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming serves only to prove that their plaudits are well earned, with a cast that is truly passionate and rich in talent.

The Homecoming centres on East-Londoner Max, the family patriarch, aggressive, discontent with his lot and filled with bitter resentment. His somewhat estranged eldest son Teddy makes an unexpected return to his family home with his new wife Ruth in tow, to be met by mixed reactions from his father, brothers Lenny and Joey, and his Uncle Sam. This event triggers unexpected revelations and change, through which we learn about the characters and watch the continuation of the family’s inevitable demise.

Pinter is famous for his nuanced, skilfully written pieces, and The Homecoming is no exception. There is a dark, uneasy tension which seethes between the characters, and is punctured by dark, sharp-witted lines which are delivered with a venom that pervades the whole piece. The play is incredibly funny and dark in turn; a mix of humour and horror that can’t help but leave an audience feeling guilty of schadenfreude but nevertheless totally gripped and unable to tear their eyes away from the stage. The acting is masterful, often only reliant on a look to convey multiple conflicting emotions, and the actors have an uncanny ability to make you connect on a personal level with each of their characters. In particular, Jason Carragher excels as the nasty piece of work that is father Max, somehow making you able to sympathise with him against your better instincts. Similarly, Karl Falconer who is both the show’s director and the character Lenny, is a bright star who is set to have a promising future, like much of his cast.

Audiences should have high expectations for further productions by Purple Coat, and should you be lucky enough that they repeat their performance of Pinter’s The Homecoming, I would highly recommend that you don’t miss it.

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