Pinter: Beautiful and Creepy

Last night I went to see a production of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, a play that I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure…if that’s the right word…the pleasure of seeing on stage before. Rarely have I seen a play where the first thing I wanted to do was go home and take a shower.

Ew. Ew. Ew.

And I mean this in a good way.

What an incredibly twisted family, in their own little twisted world. It’s no wonder that Pinter isn’t done more often—he’s incredibly hard to do well. This production was very well done. Hence…”Ew.”

I so enjoyed watching actors doing scenes with dialogue that echoed with its own depth and nuance. These weren’t just actors expressing lines or characters saying things. These characters move into the moment with their words, and the scenes bounce with a volley not often experienced in lesser writers’ works.

The direction was purposeful, and clean, and thorough. The cast was solid.

Every….pause….filled.

It was one of those shows where I kept watching the people who were not speaking, who were not part of the main action, because the performances were so fully realized in such detail.

One moment, however, stood out to me and it wasn’t scripted. Charlie (Charles) Hubbell is a well respected, very talented actor. He was also the ew factor. His portrayal of Lenny was, as one of my acting teachers used to put it, “lovely.” There was a detail to every move, every line, every sigh, every single moment. His monologue to his older brother extolling all the virtues of living such a high life in America was hilarious and beautifully played. But it was the actor’s unexpected stage business that has made me a fan.

At one point in the first act, as someone put something on or took something off a standing coat tree, a hat fell to the floor. Charlie did what any decent actor would do and didn’t ignore it; he acknowledged it and picked it up and put it back on the tree. But it was the way he did. He didn’t simply lean over and get it, he did the entire thing in character, but not just in character but with the same complexity of the moment that permeates this script and this production. There was meaning in the way he hung it up. It revealed to us his character, it revealed to us how he likes his home to be and it revealed how he felt about the person to whom the hat belonged.

It was a stunning and brilliant moment. It was an example of what truly fine acting can and should be.

And as for the “ew” factor, well. If you know the play then you should know that the creepy, twisted family dynamics were fully explored and presented. If you don’t know the play, well then, I’ll just say that the weird uncle or loner down the street or any strange man who gives off a strange vibe, every one of them has a family.

Ew.

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