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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Homecoming
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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.
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on 21 September 2011
Pinter strongly resented reviewers who stressed the Jewish setting of the play, but its credibility depends on a reader realizing that the family described is not at all an absurdist fantasy, or a mockery of English domesticity, but a closely knit immigrant family, whose members are totally dependent on each other and quite unable to break the family bond and establish themselves successfully and independently in the larger society around them. Terry (one of the sons/brothers) claims to have done so, by going off to teach at an American university and starting his own family, but an attentive reader will realize that this is a fiction. He claims to be a brilliant philosophy professor with three sons: but the 'three sons' are simply a claim to have equalled his father, and when one of his brothers tries to engage him in a philosophical discussion, he backs away. When he returns home with a glamorous wife (or is she really his wife?) from a totally different background, his family react with a mixture of hostility and admiration. They attempt to take possession of her; she responds by manipulating them. It is quite unclear at the end who will be the ultimate victor -- which is why the feminist reading is too pat. Pinter takes great trouble to avoid giving the reader any clue as to how he is to judge either the characters or the action. The result is a deeply disturbing play, open to many interpretations, and one of the masterpieces of modern British literature.
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on 26 December 2011
This without doubt is not only Pinter's greatest work but also one of English theatre's greatest plays and achievements. It revolves around a powerhouse performance by Paul Rogers as Max who dominates the film with what should have been an Oscar winning performance. It's full of Pinter's trade marks: scathing biting dialogue, extra long pregnant pauses and heart stopping dramatic performances by every member of the cast. The play has the power to shock like you've never been shocked before.

A short concise outline of the film is as follows: Max's long estranged son Teddy who is a Professor returns from America with his wife Ruth. Max is upset and shocked when they reveal they have arrived unannounced, the previous evening. Their arrival has an affect on the whole family with repercussions and devastating consequences. There are incredible performances as we observe the bitter old bullied brother Sam as he tries to outwit Max in a constant vengeful battle of wits. Younger brother Lenny is the crafty sarcastic jack the lad, who resents his father and what he stands for, while joey is the dim witted put upon son who dreams of boxing glory to lead him out of his life of drudgery. What ensues is a monumental clash of wills, personalities and ideals, leading to a devastating and shocking finale which still has the power to shock even in this day and age.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 1999
The Homecoming is a dark and complexing play which explores the underlying tensions within a family. The action takes place in a house in London: A Professor of Philosophy returns home with his wife to see the family, comprising of Max, a former butcher and the savage patriarch of the family, his brother, Sam, and his two sons, Lenny and Joey. What ensues is a power struggle, focussed on Teddy's (the professor's) wife, between the various members of the family. The outcome is shocking and in many ways inexplicable. However this should not detract anything from the enigmatic brilliance of The Homecoming. Definitely worth reading, but prepared to be shocked!
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on 17 January 2014
came on time and was in surprising really good condition (minus the little highlighting and annotations, but i knew that would be there). i honestly thought it was a brand new book when i first opened the package, so i was quite pleased!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2009
Harold Pinter's masterpiece, 'The Homecoming', is a triumph of intertextuality that resonates deeply with every single instinct and emotion that fuels my fervor for reading. Pinter's genius is unsurpassed. As a feminist, I've never encountered a more perfect manifestation of female superiority since I first heard Bon Jovi. Ruth's struggle, and ultimately her self actualisation and 'homecoming', is almost remeniscent of Simba's recapturing of the Pride Lands in 'The Lion King'. I look forward to reading more Pinter plays en route to Belgium during my next debating speech.
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on 2 February 2010
a must read for anyone who wants an insight into the absurdity of life in 1960s britain.
a bit heavy going at time, not for the prudish.
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on 25 May 2015
To some people the story may be odd, some may feel good about it. Anyway, it's interesting to read it and make your own decision.
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on 26 May 2015
classic play
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is perhaps the worst play I have ever read and seen. When I saw the film adaptation that Pinter had been involved in, it offended me so much that even though the play was on my university course and that we were watching it in a screening as part of our teaching I walked out. There is not a single likeable character and the way the men treat the only woman in the play is appalling. I would therefore recommend that you don't waste two hours of your life watching or reading it, and if you have some sadistic teacher forcing you to read it for a course, refuse to read it in protest. In terms of the edition and the seller I would award them 4 stars for quality as well as quick and efficient service, but that's about the only positive thing I can say for the product.
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