Here's a Homecoming in several senses of the word, not to mention a
First of all it brings Harold Pinter's powerful play of that name back to town, via the Gate Theatre in Dublin where this production originated and the recent
Pinter Festival at New York's Lincoln Center where it was subsequently
seen, for the third time in little over a decade. (The earlier revivals were
at the National Theatre featuring Lindsay Duncan, and another, here
also at the Comedy Theatre, in a production directed by Peter Hall who also
staged the play's original 1965 production).
Secondly, it sees the return of Ian Holm (pictured) to the play. He featured in the
original production as well as its subsequent film version, but has now
graduated to the central role of Max, patriarch of the all-male North
London household that also comprises two of his grown sons and his chauffeur
And thirdly, it marks the stunning homecoming of the finest pair of legs in
the West End, which act even more meaningfully than Denise Van Outen's in
Chicago. Actress Lia Williams, their proud owner, exercises such fanciful
footwork, and with such grace and poise, it is no wonder that her arrival in
the household is so disruptive, not to say destructive. As Ruth,
accompanying the third son (whom she has married) as he returns to his birthplace, she seduces them all.
The play, with its dull and domestic setting on the surface, simmers
with sinister tensions and dark desires underneath. As orchestrated by
director Robin Lefevre, in a staging that is at times possibly too studied
and reverential, it positively oozes with those dual Pinter signatures: being loaded with menace and pregnant with pauses.
But Pinter's play remains a darkly disturbing and compelling revelation of
mood, character and behaviour, and an expert cast drain every last ounce of
constantly shifting meaning from their macabre interactions.
Holm's homecoming to the theatrical stage - to which he was finally lured
back in another Pinter play, Moonlight in 1993, followed by a multi award-winning King Lear at the National - remains one of the
greatest pleasures of the last decade, and we relish every performance.