Sunday, March 13, 2011
"The Homecoming": ☼ ☼ ☼
First performed in London on June 3, 1965, Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming" always seems on the surface like Theater of the Absurd. The characters are impossible to picture in real life, the situation is unimaginable and the way everyone is simply reacting, not interacting, makes you wonder upon whom Pinter could have based his story? Is there another family in East London like this one? Could there be?
It is certainly a brilliant production. A.C.T.'s core company does itself pround, with Jack Willis in particular turning himself with relish into the ultra-crochety patriarch Max. Rene Augesen's Ruth and Anthony Fusco's Teddy are the principal couple. You immediately realize that all the others, including Max's brother Sam (Kenneth Welsh), middle son Lenny (Andrew Polk) and youngest son Joey (Adam O'Byrne) are playing their hands with several cards missing from all three decks, but you're counting on Ruth and Teddy to make sense of the situation. Don't do it.
Pinter plays are like trips to a literate zoo. You can love the dialog, laugh heartily at the absurd situations, laud the playwright in your mind for his examination of each character and perception of each's fatal flaw, but you can never quite answer the question: why are we here? These are creatures unlike any of us. Why did he write about them? Why should we care?
The answer appears to be that we care because Pinter makes us care. Not unlike viewing a large collection of flamingos in their native habitat, plumage on fire, we observe this family homecoming in all its native insanity, beautiful in its way, but we know those fragile limbs can't hold these daft birds upright forever.
RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "The Homecoming" Three Stars, but it's a guess. If you love Pinter, you may give it four. The acting is that good. If you're really depressed you may give it five because this bunch has to make your world look sweet as whipped cream on plum pudding.
We're settling on three. You'll want to punch Max, shake Ruth, shy away from Lenny and Joey, smack Teddy a few times on the butt and hug Sam. Pinter died in 2008 so he's no help to us now. We've got to slap our way through this one on our own.
415 Geary Street, San Francisco
Through March 27