After the success of star-studded revivals including The Hothouse, Richard III and The Ruling Class, The Jamie Lloyd Theatre Company brings more famous faces to the Trafalgar Studios. 50 years after its premiere, Harold Pinter's The Homecoming feels as heart-hammeringly tense as ever with an impressive cast of actors including Keith Allen, Gemma Chan, John Simm and Gary Kemp.
The most famous of Pinter's plays, it is replete with tension, dark undercurrents and acidic humour. In a single, sparse red room, Director Jamie Lloyd creates a stifling sense of testosterone and familial resentment at breaking point. Without undermining the language and its disjunctured rhythms, the production illuminates the powerstruggle with moments of action and sound.
Ron Cook as the father commands from his armchair, a comically camp Uncle Sam (Keith Allen) and brawny, booming youngest son Joey (John Macmillan) crank up the uncomfortable comedy, and John Simm is superb as middle son Lenny, flicking between cockney charm and malice with disarming ease.
When oldest son Teddy (Gary Kemp) returns from America for the first time in six years to introduce his wife Ruth (Gemma Chan), the pressure of sexual tension and dysfunction further freights the family dynamic.
As the only woman in a household of her husband's male relatives, Ruth finds herself at the centre of an increasingly ambiguous web of grudges and power struggles. Inscrutable and perfectly poised, Chan channels the robotic exactitude of her character in Humans (Channel 4). Yet, it is the jumble of humanity trapped beneath the surface that makes her performance compelling: the moment she steps outside alone Chan clutches her head in desperation; for all the volatile masculinity of the family home, she grows increasingly animated when not with her husband.
Without trying to neaten up Pinter's alarming, puzzling final scene, director Jamie Lloyd celebrates the nightmarish possibilities and reminds us of the multi-faceted fascination the play still holds 50 years on.
Affordable tickets: The Homecoming
In keeping with the aim to make theatre accessible, the Jamie Lloyd Theatre Company will once again release £15 tickets for Monday performances, released on the first day of the month.
|What||The Homecoming, Trafalgar Studios review|
|Where||Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
14 Nov 15 – 13 Feb 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£15 - £52.50|
|Website||Click here to book via ATG Tickets|