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A reviews round-up for Jamie Lloyds’s revival of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming

Following the success of two seasons at Trafalgar Studios, Jamie Lloyd returns with Harold Pinter’s enigmatic masterpiece, The Homecoming.

Widely regarded as Pinter’s finest play, the dangerous and tantalisingly ambiguous world of The Homecoming is a crackling hot bed of visceral tension.

Jamie Lloyd’s fiftieth anniversary production demonstrates the play’s ability to provoke, puzzle, astonish and shock just as much today as when it was first performed.

Here’s what the critics thought.

REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Guardian

“Fifty years after its London premiere, Harold Pinter’s play continues to puzzle, astonish and delight.

An unexpected family reunion retains its power to shock and haunt in Jamie Lloyd’s bold, impeccably acted and psychologically astute revival.

Far from treating it as a revered theatrical specimen preserved in aspic, Jamie Lloyd’s excellent revival offers a fresh approach to the play without in any way violating the rhythms of Pinter’s text.” Michael Billington

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STAR RATING The Times

“What on earth was that? It’s good to know that, half a century after it first put Harold Pinter at the forefront of British drama, this 1965 play can still leave audiences so provoked, puzzled and, finally, pleased.

Jamie Lloyd’s 50th-anniversary revival is less museum piece, more cheese dream. With its stark but colourful expressionist staging, its swirling bursts of Mod music and its sharp Sixties threads, this is Pinter goes Kafka, domestic drama goes haunted-house horror.

Once you give up your futile quest for someone to feel comfortable with, it all clicks into gear. It’s a colourful, horrible, sometimes horribly funny evening that time has not tamed.” Dominic Maxwell

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STAR RATING Time Out

“The plays of Harold Pinter are famous for their unsettling pauses, but Jamie Lloyd’s fiftieth anniversary revival of ‘The Homecoming’ is as notable for its sound and fury as its silences.
It’s a vision of testosterone-charged hell: loud, empty, heartless, a clangorous dick-measuring contest that will never have an outcome.
It’s easy to dryly pick over Pinter’s symbolism, but this roaring gutpunch of a production feels too visceral for cold overanalysis – a disorientating portrait of masculinity-as-hell that swaggers with infernal vitality.” Andrzej Lukowski

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STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“Lloyd delivers an evening that is intense, committed and often – because of the dialogue – darkly funny. He interpolates stylised tableaux of anguish, rams home the insinuation that these men haven’t recovered from child-abuse. But moment by moment, it’s not always persuasive.

Gemma Chan – impassive, feline, a droplet of exoticism in a parched desert of longing – struggles to lift her lines free of heavily weighted intent. When she coolly crosses her legs, gulps a glass of water, it looks more like actorly obedience to a stage-direction than disarming autonomy.

The laurels go to John Simm, a superbly toxic Lenny: he’s one of those actors who can convey menace with a fixed smile, whose gaze can get its object in an invisible headlock.” Dominic Cavendish

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STAR RATING The Stage

“A bold, unnerving 50th anniversary revival which ably demonstrates that Pinter’s classic still has the power to shock.

John Simm has a wonderfully unsettling smile; there’s something faintly diabolical about the way his mouth stretches just that little bit too wide.

Ron Cook and Keith Allen give well-crafted performances and Simm in particular packs an incredible amount into his lines, eking out their nastiness, his delivery clipped and prim yet brutal.

Gary Kemp – sporting a pair of Ronnie Kray glasses – is more understated as Teddy, yet his coolness comes to be disquieting and the ease with which everyone accepts the idea that Ruth will stay behind, to earn her keep, pimped out on Greek Street, is still shocking.”

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“Harold Pinter’s plays are famous for their drawn-out pauses, but Jamie Lloyd’s revival of The Homecoming positively clips along without sacrificing the tightly calculated strangeness. Marking the 50th anniversary of this key work, it’s a lean and controlled interpretation that captures the enigmatic originality of Pinter’s terrifying vision of a family in which everyone is a predator.” Henry Hitchings

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