The Homecoming – Harold Pinter (1964)

The Homecoming is a two-act play written in 1964 by Nobel laureate Harold Pinter and it was first published in 1965. Its premières in London (1965) and New York (1967) were both directed by Sir Peter Hall and starred Pinter’s first wife, Vivien Merchant, as Ruth. The original Broadway production won the 1967 Tony Award for Best Play. … Set in North London, the play has six characters. Five of these are men who are related to each other: Max, a retired butcher; his brother Sam, a chauffeur; and Max’s three sons — Teddy, an expatriate American philosophy professor; Lenny, who appears to be a pimp; and Joey, a would-be boxer in training who works in demolition. There is one woman, Ruth, who is Teddy’s wife. The play concerns Teddy’s and Ruth’s ‘homecoming,’ which has distinctly different symbolic and thematic implications. The setting is an old house in North London during the summer. All of the scenes take place in the same large room, filled with various pieces of furniture. The shape of a square arch, no longer present, is visible. Beyond the room are a hallway and staircase to the upper floor and the front door.  After having lived in the United States for several years, Teddy brings his wife, Ruth, home for the first time to meet his working-class family in North London, where he grew up and which she finds more familiar than their arid academic life in America. Much sexual tension occurs as Ruth teases Teddy’s brothers and father and the men taunt one another in a game of one-upmanship, resulting in Ruth’s staying behind with Teddy’s relatives as ‘one of the family’ and Teddy and their three sons returning home to America without her. … Often considered to be a highly ambiguous, an enigmatic, and for some even a cryptic play, The Homecoming has been the subject of extensive critical debate for over forty years. According to many critics, it exposes issues of sex and power in a realistic yet aesthetically stylised manner. … Like other contemporary critics familiar with The Homecoming, Ben Brantley praises the play’s two-act plot structure, referring to its ‘nigh-perfect form.’ In the 1960s, when first encountering the play, its earliest critics complained that, like Pinter’s other plays as perceived then, The Homecoming seemed, in their words, ‘plotless,’ ‘meaningless,’ and ’emotionless’ (lacking character motivation), and they found the play ‘puzzling’ (their word); later critics argue that the play evokes a multiplicity of potential meanings, leading to multiple interpretations. …”
W – Harold Pinter
New Yorker: Demolition Man
NY Times: You Can Go Home Again, but You’ll Pay the Consequences
DailyMotion: The Homecoming (1973) 1:53:54

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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