Richard Parish | 02 May 2017 19:01pm
It took Harold Pinter only six weeks to write The Homecoming but four years, from licence application to performance, for Lighted Fools Theatre Company to bring the play to its fan base.
Is there any more symbolism in the timescales than within the play itself? Well, probably only if you want there to be and so it may seem with Pinter’s classic. And was the four year wait worth it? You bet it was!
The Homecoming was written in Worthing not so far away from Guildford’s Mill Studio where it has played to capacity audiences – a tribute to the growing status of the Lighted Fools.
A story of violence and sex, innuendo and unhappiness, the play has elicited hidden meanings from critics and theatregoers alike since it was written more than fifty years ago.
Does the missing rear wall in the sitting room refer to the absence of a long dead wife and mother as has been suggested for example? Who knows?
In a male-dominated environment, father Max, brother Sam and sons, Lenny, Joey and Teddy – the return of stay away Teddy with wife Ruth turns the unhappy and deeply depressing status quo upside down as the lone female comes to dominate the 1960’s household. But you probably know the plot!
Hats off then to the ‘Fools’ for an enthralling performance from company stalwart Nick Lund as a really nasty Lenny, the pimp; to another regular Derek Watts, the put-down Sam the chauffeur; to Paul Halliwell the weak husband Teddy; to company newcomer Eddie King as Joey, would-be boxer and subservient demolition man and, of course, to Polly King for the mysterious Ruth.
But if one has to single out any one performance in David Hemsley-Brown’s cleverly directed play, it has to be the ‘Fools’ founder, Richard Parish, as the family patriarch Max.
A more loathsome character you could not wish for and Richard, who most of us know in other more relaxed roles in the neighbourhood, transformed himself into a grotesque, spittle spraying monster, lower lip projecting, facially fearsome and thoroughly believable. Let’s hope he didn’t model Max on anybody he knows!
And, in the end, did you feel any pity for Max or any of the sons for that matter, as they sought redemption and love in one form or another from his newly discovered daughter-in-law. And who was Ruth before she married Teddy? Did she marry him to escape a suggestive past and, if so, why was she so prepared to apparently slip back into it – on her terms of course -now she had ‘come home’!
Can real people live like this? There are plenty of sordid tales around to suggest so – particularly since The Homecoming was penned in 1964. But should we read too much into the play or simply applaud Lighted Fools for another job well done?
You have to remind yourselves that the players are non-professional actors and so to end this review it is interesting to note that the last time we saw one particular member of the company that person was operating on my wife’s toe in the ‘real’ world! Now read the symbolism into that!
- : user
- : 27/04/2017