Production: The Homecoming
Venue: Drama Barn
Rating: * * *
Fidgeting to stay comfortable, I was aware this play had all the potential to be agonising watching. The depth in this portrayal of too many men communicating too little comes from the infamous Pinteresque pregnant pause, and if Anna Pinkstone and Sally Daniels hadn’t been directing this, they would have been directing Film Noir, because these were not just any pauses, but slow-drag-on-the-cigarette pauses. Though this weightiness risked the line between intense and painfully slow, I was riveted.
Alex Forsyth’s decrepit alpha male, Max, dominated from early on, and Freud would have had a field day both his oft-wielded stick and his upward-pointing smoking. He and his three sons were strutting pigeons amongst which were thrown the cat of Ruth (Victoria Lloyd). My highlight was when Lenny (Jonathan Kerridge-Phipps) moved in for his first kiss; his twitching eyebrow brought on hysterics.
The psychological realism of the first half morphed into a surreal tragedy-by-nymphomaniac as the men – boxer, philosopher, pimp and patriarch – became worker bees buzzing for their Queen. It hurt, perhaps because their fall was just realistic enough to be relatable for any man who has surrendered too much to a beautiful woman.
A comic twist came from Sam (James Quelch), in the form of clouds of talcum-power that cascaded from the hair at sudden movements.