Saturday, December 22, 2007

"The Homecoming"

Ah, Pinter. The master of subtext. In other words, what's being said is only one level of what's really going on. In this production of Pinter's 1964 play, what is presented is a family of sociopaths who can (and this is the frightening thing about sociopaths) occasionally pass for ordinary people. Much of the dialogue is simple and plain, often redundant and delivered mostly with a flat affect - or at least a sense of ordinariness: this is the sort of thing people say all the time.

So when the deep resentments and tales of violent interludes are brought into the conversation, one is first tempted to dismiss them as lies or exaggerations. Surely no sane, ordinary person could speak of such things in such a cool, detached manner. This is how we discover that what seems like an everyday working class family who have lost their mum, is in fact a collection of unrestrained hooligans turned completely in on themselves and their own concerns.

The cast in this production is uniformly excellent. Raul Esparza, Michael McKean, James Frain and Gareth Saxe each acquit their roles with tremendous skill. But Ian McShane (star of perhaps my favorite television series of all time, "Deadwood") stands out for his ability to communicate the subtext of menace. It's hard to look away from him. That said, I don't think he would be nearly as effective without the balancing power of Eve Best's portrayal of Ruth. Best exhibits a kind of understated strength that shows that either a) she can handle this batch of sociopaths pretty well, thank you very much, or b) she's a bit of a sociopath herself.

If you dig Pinter, don't miss it. It's rare you will find such a talented cast in such a terrific production.


Paul Salinger said...

did you read the excellent piece on Pinter and "The Homecoming" in the current issue of The New Yorker?

Tom said...

Nope. But will right now.