THE HOMECOMING.

HARLOW THEATRE COMPANY.

February 2017

 

A pack of feral men, living in a house ruled over by the patriarch, Max, his sons Lenny, a pimp, and Joey, the youngest, a boxer. Forced into the feminine role is Sam, Max’s brother, unmarried, a chauffeur, dedicated to his job as the best in the business, if you listen to him that is. With no female influence, they rigidly stick to their masculine order, each knowing where they are in their self harming food chain. Into this pack returns prodigal son Teddy, an academic who fled to America, and his wife Ruth. Immediately they begin prowling round her, enforcing rigid definitions of whore and mother upon her, for them the ideal woman. But Ruth is having none of it.

I have waited a long time to see a production of The Homecoming that successfully serves the text and the acting demands, and Jane Miles has created an extraordinary production that shimmers with sexual tension, power and comedy. The set and lighting design are a perfect canvas for the drama to be played out, and a mesmerising cast brought each character vividly to life. As Max, Barry Bowen perfectly captured the flip that his nature goes through, one minute berating women and Ruth as whores, the next delivering a sermon on the beauty and dignity of motherhood, lashing out at his sons and brother, a dislikeable man made human by Pinter’s waspish humour. Outstanding in performance was Joe Bishop as Lenny, a still, unhurried presence of threat and violence preparing to take over the role of head of the family that he believes is his, bullying and dominating. As Joey, Tyrone Samuels radiated his need for emotional nurturing, never taking his eyes off Ruth. Paul Johnson was simply outstanding as Sam, bubbling with secret lives and undercurrents of need, his face saying a thousand words.

Mitch Rous as Teddy perfectly captured the impotence of the character, degrees and knowledge accounting for nothing in this world, but still his family insist they are proud of him. And Pam Self-Pierson was outstanding as Ruth, quietly asserting her dominance over the group until she ends up sitting in Max’s chair with the men defeated at her feet, or isolated like Lenny. (The scene between Ruth and Lenny involving a glass of water perfectly played as an exercise in dominance). She decides to stay and work as a prostitute for the family-under her terms and conditions. Sexual slavery or sexual freedom? Fifty years on the debate rages and it’s a credit to the play that it still does. But, for me, this production made clear that rigid and old fashioned structures of masculinity are not worth clinging onto, they are literally destroying men.

Jane Miles allows the text and the silence to speak for itself, no flashy directorial add ons, perfectly pacing the production. I wanted the company of a recent professional production to be made to watch it and learn how to perform Pinter. An outstanding production- do not call this amateur!

PAUL T. DAVIES

 

Paul T Davies is a critic for Britishtheatre.com and kindly provided this unofficial review for Harlow Theatre Company.

Cast List

Max –  Barry Bowen

Lenny – Joe Bishop

Sam – Paul Johnson

Joey – Tyrone Samuels

Teddy – Mitch Rous

Ruth – Pam Self-Pierson

 

 

 

 

Production Team

Director –   Jane Miles

Set Design –  Brett Stevens

Lighting Design –  Tom Richards

Sound Design – Sarah Wiggins

Costume Design –  Denise Rouse, Hollie Mai Smedley,
Alyssa Upton

Properties – Alex Appleton

Art Design – Paul Johnson

Production Manager – Alyssa Upton

Stage Manager – Sam Stevens

Lighting Operator –  Helga Kilroy

Sound Operator – Sarah Wiggins

ASMs Alyssa Upton – Alex Appleton

Wardrobe – Helga Kilroy

Set Construction: Brett Stevens, Steve Dove, Leo Appleton, 
Sarah Green, Melissa Guest

Rehearsal Prompter – Helga Kilroy

Marketing – Mel Guest

 

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank our sponsors for their support throughout 2016 and 2017. Also; Carpetright, Dave Wright, Marion Dove, Cath Lamb, Alex and Leo Appleton for their invaluable involvement in this production.