Today’s theatre review moves away from the world of musicals and into some classic Harold Pinter. I bought tickets for the 50th anniversary production of The Homecoming for my dad for his birthday, and yesterday was the day we took our seats at Trafalgar Studio One.
Produced by the Jamie Lloyd Theatre Company, directed by Lloyd himself, this production is a masterpiece. Pinter’s style is so distinctive, and his characters so precise, that it’s easy to do wrong, but phenomenal when ‘done right’.
This production has a cast of the highest calibre, and I believe we saw them doing some of their very best work. Ron Cook’s Max was just perfect, bristling with tension and complaining like a man who has lived his life hard-done-to. His monologues in particular were superb, and his heavy breathing after a particularly violent moment was eerie. Sam, played by Keith Allen, juxtaposed his brother excellently, providing light relief and a depth of character hinting at years of moments like the ones shown here.
John Simm, in the role of Lenny, blew me away. His timing was impeccable, and the character had a look in his eyes that made you always uncertain as to how he would act next, or which way his emotions would move. Macmillan embodied the youngest brother Joey well, and I found his final moments with Ruth touching.
Taking on the role of Ruth was the exquisite Gemma Chan, and I can’t think of anyone who could have done the role better. Her measured performance and calm exterior only made her character’s actions more incredible. Her husband Teddy (Gary Kemp) was a well-suited partner, with his reactions of disbelief as the show went on very convincing.
The tension beneath every line was palpable, and there was so much power behind what was being left unsaid. Silence was their other powerful tool, and the marked moments of silence added to the atmosphere excellently. The ‘choreographed’ moments, such as when all moved or drank at once, were well-timed, whilst still managing to stay realistic.
Soutra Gilmour’s design complimented the script and direction beautifully, with the simplicity of the set offering the perfect backdrop for the characters. The sound design from George Dennis worked fantastically, with music that enhanced moments of tension and had a very distinctive sound.
The lighting, designed by Richard Howell, was breath-taking. The flashes of red and impeccable timings of blackouts were like nothing I’ve ever seen, and elevated an already fantastic production to one of absolute excellence. The superb control over the very final lighting fade was stunning.
The show continues until the middle of February, and I strongly urge you to try and get a ticket. I was truly, truly impressed, and it’s one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time.