Carey Perloff


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THE HOMECOMING

by Harold Pinter

A.C.T. 2011


"Carey Perloff’s production of The Homecoming, dark, funny and impeccably performed at American Conservatory Theater, is as close to Pinter-perfect as you probably can get. Perloff, who also is artistic director of ACT, has a long history with the famed British playwright, who died in 2008. He was, she has written, the inspiration for her decision to go into the theater in the first place. Once established in her chosen career, she had the occasion to work personally with him, as she has with his contemporary, Tom Stoppard. So she knows her stuff. And she shows it in her deft direction of this show."

–– CULTURE VULTURE


"American Conservatory Theater's production of this classic work, directed by Carey Perloff, is a spellbinding work of spleen and seduction. 'The Homecoming' is a must-see this season. Prepare to leave the theater confused, inspired or shaken - but most likely of all, seduced."

––  DAILY CALIFORNIAN

The Homecoming - Cast

Cast of THE HOMECOMING, A.C.T. 2011, Photo by Kevin Berne

Cast of THE HOMECOMING, A.C.T. 2011, Photo by Kevin Berne

The Homecoming

THE HOMECOMING, Andrew Polk, René Augesen, A.C.T. 2011, Photo by Kevin Berne

"There's nothing pleasant about Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming," but it's a pleasure to partake of the one that opened Wednesday at American Conservatory Theater. Artistic Director Carey Perloff's finely tuned and superbly balanced staging makes the 1965 drama seem fresh and new again.

The north London family to which Anthony Fusco's Teddy returns with his wife, Ruth, is as appalling as ever, but runs thick with the tensions of men bound together by more than ingrained jockeying for power. The ever-present menace lurking beneath the surface is infused with a perversely genuine if treacherous warmth. The language is crisp, comic and redolent of multiple meanings. The famous Pinter pauses more than enhance the action; they define it.


Augesen's Ruth dominates the story, simply through careful observation of the power dynamics and her enigmatic reactions. Perloff and Augesen take the old controversy about whether Ruth is the victim of the men's virulent misogyny and render it tantalizingly open to several interpretations.

The vast, inward-leaning walls and hovering light fixture of Daniel Ostling's set serve as a gritty reminder of the struggle for survival within, just as a long staircase leaves characters eloquently exposed when making an exit. The men who inhabit the old homestead bristle with fiercely or subtly stated individuality, reinforced by Alex Jaeger's preening costumes, and a shared feral opportunism.


Jack Willis' old butcher, Max, rules this roost as a monstrous patriarch of abrupt mood swings, veering from boastful or rosy nostalgia to angry recriminations in one speech - or from revering to reviling his late wife in a phrase. If his size, temper and roar won't enforce his alpha role, he's not above a sudden sucker punch. His rambling monologues become a concerted effort to goad any possible competition into showing its hand. He needn't worry about his youngest son, Joey, expertly portrayed by Adam O'Byrne as a none-too-swift would-be boxer with no sense of keeping up his guard. Max's seemingly sweet brother Sam (Kenneth Welsh) is another story, concealing a cowed, vicious streak behind his amiable facade.


Andrew Polk's wily, feline pimp Lenny, Max's second son, is more dangerous, in part because he shares his father's violent streak but more because he plays by his own rules. A smoothly sinister player, he can bide his time, at least until older brother Teddy shows up with the attractive and unsettlingly alluring Ruth. Teddy is the successful son who's become a philosophy professor in America, or so we're told - everything we hear may be accepted and doubted in equal measure. Fusco cagily plays him as both outsider and family member (his offer to "cuddle" his dad is a brilliant mix of affection and combat), but this is more Ruth's homecoming than Teddy's.


As Perloff skillfully orchestrates the undercurrents of the action, Augesen surfs the waves of testosterone that envelop Ruth. When Teddy first shows her his father's paternal chair, the sharp glance Ruth gives it in that early scene pays rich dividends in Perloff's final tableau."

–– ROBERT HURWITT, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE




CAST

ANDREW POLK

JACK WILLIS

ANTHONY FUSCO

RENÉ AUGESEN

ADAM O'BYRNE

KENNETH WELSH


CREATIVE TEAM

DANIEL OSTLING, SCENERY

ALEX JAEGER, COSTUMES

ALEXANDER V. NICHOLS, LIGHTING

CLIFF CARUTHERS, SOUND DESIGN

MICHAEL PALLER, DRAMATURG

JONATHAN RIDER, FIGHT DIRECTOR

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

ADAM O'BYRNE, FIGHT CAPTAIN