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Home is where the heart is
on 22 October 2007
5 stars going on 10. It will take me weeks to digest this one. Little bit of a surprise, eh? So Pinter is not just a political campaigner.
The quality of the dialogue knocked me off my feet. Conventions seem well-established but aren't quite the expected conventions. The family is close but not quite the expected closeness. This is hardly a dysfunctional family: it's just a family not functioning as you might have been taught a family should.
I recently watched the 1973 American Film Theatre performance of this play on VHS. Vivian Merchant, who also starred in the American Film Theatre's version of Jean Genet's "The Maids", plays Ruth in "The Homecoming". How to expect a better cast? In the hands of those incredible actors, this play slammed into me. It will take me days to find suitable words to describe what hit me. Unlike the plays of Pinter's friend Beckett, "The Homecoming" can't be dismissed as Theatre of the Absurd. Not that there isn't absurdity, but that Pinter works hard to interwine it with familiar daily routines.
No boring moments. At the beginning the hostilities seemeed contrived but very soon a lot more was going on. Most of us aren't as creative as this family in finding a way to make the family work ... and most of us probably wouldn't want to be. But they are close and not just because of what they share during this visit. The father especially struck me as rising above his angers to find a love (however unconventional) for his sons and that warmth became unmistakeable as the play progressed. No? Well, something special is going on in "The Homecoming" and I'll probably need many passes to understand what it is. But, with such rich dialogue, many passes seem warranted.