Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Review: The Homecoming at Trafalgar Studios



The Homecoming 
Trafalgar Studios
Reviewed on Monday 23rd November 2015
★★★★★

It has been ten months since a new Jamie Lloyd production opened at Trafalgar Studios, and it wasn't until last night that I realised just how much his work has been missed in the West End. We've seen a variety of plays open their doors to West End audiences in recent months, but nothing as bold or dangerous as Lloyd's revival of The Homecoming by Harold Pinter.

A twisted family drama, the action takes place when Teddy returns from America to introduce his wife, Ruth, to his all-male family who (in true Pinter fashion) live in a dark, dark world and find themselves taken aback by the presence of a female.

Lloyd miraculously masters the balance of black humour with the brutality of the piece. I was gripped by the awkwardness which intensifies throughout - there are some electrifyingly uncomfortable moments. I must stress that for those unfamiliar with the piece, The Homecoming is not the kind of play you 'enjoy'. 

Remarkably, every element of Lloyd's production is exquisite - I sat in complete awe of the set, sound, lighting and direction. Soutra Gilmour strikes again; her design is so simple, yet works hand in hand with Lloyd's detailed direction to focus the production beautifully. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw such a superbly focused play. 

Richard Howell and George Dennis' lighting and sound designs are unbelievably powerful, creating many moments which are striking, uncomfortable and in your face. Howell and Dennis are the true stars of the show and deserve award after award for their work on this production, as well as Lloyd and Gilmour who are the most exciting and daring director/designer combo currently working in the West End.

The ensemble of actors don't put a foot wrong. Gemma Chan is hauntingly brilliant with her composed and almost robotic portrayal of Ruth whilst Keith Allen (Sam), Ron Cook (Max), Gary Kemp (Teddy), John Macmillan (Joey) and John Simm (Lenny) are all equally as strong.

The Homecoming is, without doubt, my favourite of Lloyd's Trafalgar productions. The piece hit me with a breath of fresh air - it is so encouraging to see a reimagined interpretation of Pinter's hard-hitting masterpiece being staged with such flair, identity and bravery. I was enthralled.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

The Homecoming at Trafalgar Studios until 13th February 2016.
Please visit www.thejamielloydcompany.com for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Marc Brenner 

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