Reviews are coming in for the revival of Harold Pinter”s The Homecoming at The Young Vic in London.
Harold Pinter’s unnerving, award-winning modern classic is revived by director Matthew Dunster (2:22 A Ghost Story, Shirley Valentine, The Pillowman), and is playing at the Young Vic until the end of January.
The Homecoming stars BAFTA winner Jared Harris (Mad Men, Chernobyl, Foundation) as family patriarch Max, with Joe Cole (Gangs of London, The Ipcress File, Peaky Blinders) playing one of his son’s Lenny and Lisa Diveney (Call the Midwife, The Seagull) playing his daughter in-law Ruth.
The cast also includes David Angland (The Pillowman, Doctor Faustus) as Joey, Robert Emms (Chernobyl, Star Wars: Andor) as Teddy, and Nicolas Tennant (The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Duchess of Malfi) as Sam.
The Homecoming is designed by Moi Tran, with lighting design by Sally Ferguson, sound design by George Dennis, casting by Heather Basten CDG, US casting consultation by David Caparelliotis, voice and dialect coaching by Hazel Holder, fight direction by Kev McCurdy, movement direction by Charlotte Broom, intimacy direction by Yarit Dor and Jerwood Assistant Director is Bellaray Bertrand-Webb.
The Homecoming is playing until 27 January 2024 at the Young Vic.
Read reviews from the Evening Standard, Times and more, with further reviews to be added.
The Homecoming reviews
"An impeccable production of an important, deeply unpleasant play"
"There is a direct line to draw from the world of this play to the online toxic masculinity of today"
"Matthew Dunster’s stylish production operates a notch above naturalism until the latent violence and misogyny of the script erupt in spotlit bursts, accompanied by percussive jazz. It’s a gripping watch but a hard one, even though Dunster gives the female character Ruth (Lisa Diveney) more agency than is usual."
"You can draw a direct line from this thinking to the online toxic masculinity of today, of course. But you don’t need that contemporary relevance to appreciate a terrific production that renders the play as both an authentic 1960s artefact, and a timeless study of aggression."
"Matthew Dunster’s bleakly good staging accentuates the latent horror: before the play starts, Moi Tran’s living room set is bathed in a fug of dry ice; moments of revelation are picked out in sudden shafts of white light. This is unsettling but, as ever with Pinter, it’s the details that are most disturbing: the lads’ blank faces and thousand-yard stares whenever Max waxes poetic about their dead mother, and their discomfort when he talks about bathing them as boys."
"Lisa Diveney’s performance is wonderfully subtle: her grab at agency suggests a determination born of her own past."
"Jared Harris is a menacing patriarch in Pinter’s striking portrait of stricken masculinity"
"Matthew Dunster’s revival of Pinter’s 1965 play is stylishly expressive, and boasts a real star turn from the Crown and Mad Men alumnus"
"Dunster’s thrust staging plunges us into the centre of this dysfunctional family, rudderless since the death of patriarch Max’s wife and mother to his three sons. The austere, faded furniture in Moi Tran’s thoughtful set conjures a home frozen in time, the dusky-pink sofa evoking that feminine absence. It’s both period piece and the icy framing for a brutal domestic psychodrama."
"This striking portrait of masculinity in crisis is brilliantly led by Mad Men and The Crown star Jared Harris, making a welcome return to the British stage. His Max, though menacing, is also vulnerable and peevish from the start"
"A dysfunctional family drama in London suburb"
"Harris plays Max with more pathetic sentimentality than usual, tearfully recalling his dead wife Jessie whose empty rocking chair sits accusingly on stage. Like Twiggy gone to the Dark Side, Diveney brings a ruthlessness to Ruth that makes her return to London and the low-life milieu appear logical. She is the one who is coming ‘home’."
"Unpleasant to watch as a woman"
"The play speaks potently to the toxic masculinity of today, but it is not a play that is kind to women"
"The Young Vic is not in a Christmassy mood. It would be difficult to think of a less festive offering than Harold Pinter’s uncompromising modern classic The Homecoming (1965), although grinches among us might argue that its bleak portrayal of warped family dynamics as an eldest son returns to the family home has immense relevance for the December days to come."
"The set-up crackles with frisson, expertly sustained by director Matthew Dunster who, after his fine work on West End hit 2:22 A Ghost Story, cements his status as a master of this sort of unsettling milieu."
"Pinter’s timeless study of toxic masculinity"
"Playing a man meeting his daughter-in-law for the first time, Jared Harris brings out the dark comedy in Pinter’s snapshot of misogyny"
"Matthew Dunster’s production, intentionally or otherwise, appears more like a snapshot of misogyny at its most unapologetic, as university professor Teddy (Robert Emms) returns to his febrile, all-male, working-class family home after years of estrangement with his wife, Ruth (Lisa Diveney), in tow."
"Weird now, weird always"
"The Young Vic may have Jared Harris and Joe Cole, but try as you might, it’s tough getting to grips with one of Harold Pinter’s oddest plays"
"You won’t ever fully get The Homecoming. Don’t give your savings to anyone who says they do. It looks like the Pinter of the popular imagination, all words as weapons, sharp lines and sharp threads. It acts like a cheese-dream riff on the male psyche. And, not for the first time, it takes a while for its strange magic to grip."
"[Jared Harris'] not bad here, but he lacks the outsized, lurid, bilious authority I’ve felt from others in the role"
"The change of the guard holds your attention even if your head combusts as you try to figure out why. This isn’t quite a vintage production. But, like too much smoke in the air, it gets into your system whether you like it or not."
"Gripping and nastily funny"
"Tremendously acted revival of Pinter’s remorselessly nasty early drama"
"Harold Pinter’s rancid family drama from the mid-1960s is back, and once again, it prompts a pair of conflicting observations. First, it reminds us what a peerless master of dialogue he was... Second, even in a pungent, gripping and nastily funny production by Matthew Dunster, the play proves itself to be insoluble."
"By the end of the play, welcoming Ruth to the family with a noxious mix of avarice, lust and childlike neediness, they are all pretty pathetic – but they’re also dangerous: as eloquent an embodiment of toxic masculinity as anyone could ask. It’s a bleakly horrible psychodrama, delivered with consummate skill."
"This naturalistic Pinter revival has a fine cast but little of the playwright’s otherworldly menace"
"... this revival of 1965’s ‘The Homecoming’ from Matthew Dunster – a rare off-West End excursion from the Theatreland hitmaker – treats it as straight as is physically possible. And it kind of works. For a bit."
"Dunster’s production is a period piece and feels informed by acknowledgment of the rarity of single fatherhood in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and how this may have given him a peculiar relationship with his laconic children Lenny (Joe Cole) and Joey (David Angland), and their subsequent toxic attitude towards women."
"Dunster is second to none when it comes to wrangling celebrity casts – this is the first stage outing in years for Harris and Cole – and there are solid performances here, most notably Diveney as the ambivalent Ruth."
"Starry Pinter revival is a tired, tawdry exercise in 1960s misogyny"
"Director Matthew Dunster’s new staging has a megawatt cast that includes Jared Harris, Nicolas Tennant, Joe Cole and Lisa Diveney, but not the vision needed to update this thorny play for the present"
"Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming needs a clear-sighted vision to keep things the right kind of fairytale nightmarish. Director Matthew Dunster’s staging might have a megawatt cast on board, but it feels horribly underpowered on the Young Vic’s massive stage."
"If you’re going to stage it, there’s got to be some kind of interpretation that’ll make it feel like a biting critique of 1960s misogyny, rather than a dull exercise in it. Unfortunately, this production falls into the latter category, feeling tired and tawdry, even if the odd line still hits its mark."
"This Pinter staging goes way over the top"
"The parade of overheated effects makes it even harder to get to grips with the collection of low-lifes and chancers whose motivations remain murky at the best of times. Like Keith Allen in last year’s revival of The Homecoming at the Theatre Royal in Bath, Jared Harris is convincingly rancid as the self-pitying patriarch Max, whose vocabulary doesn’t extend far beyond “bitch”"
"Lisa Diveney brings an extra degree of physicality to the ultra-blank Ruth, parading back and forth with a sullen catwalk stare."
"Yet the question remains: why should we care what happens to such a random, charmless collection of characters? I was still puzzling over that on the way home, when I got on my train and the first seat I saw was covered in vomit. Somehow, it seemed an apt end to the evening."
"Stealth and a powerful sense of undercurrent are the play’s motors. They do not power Matthew Dunster’s production. Although jazz slams down noisily between scenes to signal excitement, and sudden lighting changes flag up and freeze dramatically vital moments, the atmosphere is tepid."
"There is, though, subtlety from Nicolas Tennant, and real Pinterish amoral energy from Joe Cole. He has the best speeches, including a nifty dissection of Christianity. He delivers them in a voice so clipped that it seems disembodied and with a self-delight that propels him dancing around the stage."