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The Homecoming Paperback – January 11, 1994
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From the Back Cover
In an old and slightly seedy house in North London there lives a family of men: Max, the aging but still aggressive patriarch; his younger, ineffectual brother Sam; and two of Max's three sons, neither of whom is married-Lenny, a small-time pimp, and Joey, who dreams of success as a boxer. Into this sinister abode come the eldest son, Teddy, who, having spent the past six years teaching philosophy in America, is now bringing his wife, Ruth, home to visit the family she has never met.
About the Author
Harold Pinter was born in London in 1930. He lived with Antonia Fraser from 1975 and they married in 1980. In 1995 he won the David Cohen British Literature Prize, awarded for a lifetime's achievement in literature. In 1996 he was given the Laurence Olivier Award for a lifetime's achievement in theatre. In 2002 he was made a Companion of Honour for services to literature. In 2005 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and, in the same year, the Wilfred Owen Award for Poetry and the Franz Kafka Award (Prague). In 2006 he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize and, in 2007, the highest French honour, the Legion d'honneur. He died in December 2008. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
We get to know a great deal about the pasts of these characters: an old man, his brother Sam, his three grown sons, and the wife of one of the sons. She and her husband are visiting from America where he is a philosophy professor. They have left their three little sons at home. We see a large slice of the ordinary lives of these six people. But people in real life don't act this way, theatergoers say. Of course they don't. Why go to the theater to see the commonplace, the ordinary? Why not see what would happen when libidos take over?
I saw an insightful production of this play on Broadway on January12, 2008. It featured Ian McShane as Max, the nasty father, Raul Esparza as Lenny, the pimp. Eve Best played the enigmatic sexual tease Ruth, and three other fine actors rounded out the cast. The play was full of menace, irony, and shock, but with many bits that drew laughter. The father and his two stay-at-home sons have a low opinion of women, and Ruth certainly reinforces that view. Lenny talks about his violence toward women. Teddy, the philosophy teacher, an ersatz intellectual, acquiesces to his wife staying with the family as a tart stoically and unfeelingly.
The father knows his sons' and his brother's weaknesses, and he cruelly exploits them. Everything seems sinister and threatening. Lenny blows his stack over trivial matters: his brother Teddy has deliberately eaten the cheese sandwich he was saving for himself while Teddy blithely accepts that his wife is deserting him and staying with his family to become a hooker. The trivial becomes earthshaking, and crucial matters become trivial. She does not do what a real person would do, but what a woman might do if she let her deeper, darker nature take over. The father's brother Sam ineffectual and impotent. Early on Max says to Same that he should get married and bring his wife home to live in the family manse so everyone can "enjoy" her.
The readers or the audience squirm in their seats and don't get it. Since this play was written forty-two years ago, the audiences have lost their understanding of the absurdist traditions and have slipped back into their state of undemanding, timid and risk-free theatergoing. Nobel prize winner Pinter blazed new ground for them, and they are right back where they started from.
I am hesitant to say what the play is about, because even after seeing a very good production, and reading the text closely, there are a myriad of possibilities about how to interpret the script, and the nuances therein. The play certainly is about family relationships, sexual jealousy, gender power dynamics, and many other things to boot. And yet, Pinter never gives us an insight into what he really thinks about these things, and at times I am not even sure the characters do. And it works!
A strength of the play are the characters Max and Lenny. In Lenny especially Pinter has created a daunting and very intriguing character that can make the audience squirm in their seats. He is dark, funny, smart, and a pimp. A wonderful role for a talented performer to sink his teeth into. In fact, all of the roles have wonderful possibilities in performance.
However, the greatest power in the play lies not in what is said, but rather in what is NOT said. It is there that the reader is stimulated into following up on hints in the text, and making up most of the story for themselves in their head. The infamous "Pinter pause" is certainly on display in this work. I can imagine many interesting conversations to be had while arguing about what the play is really saying.
Some readers hate that ambiguity, I love it. It is a personal preference so be warned, if you pick up "The Homecoming" you will be left with more questions than answers.