PREVIEW: ROGUE’Z The Homecoming
Playwright Harold Pinter believed The Homecoming – a prickly insight into a womanless family – was among his best work. It’s certainly one of his darkest, and, potentially, funniest. Therefore, it’s appropriate that the undeniably talented folks at ROGUE’Z Theatre Company have chosen to perform it as part of this year’s Cardiff Comedy Festival. They welcomed me into their apt rehearsal room – a grey-brown, disused church hall with the troubling presence of a Baby Jesus and Mary sculpture. If only Mary could have heard what goes on in this play, she’d be quick to cover her little boy’s ears.
In a North London living room, the relatively successful Teddy returns from America to his dysfunctional, all-male household with his wife. Together, they are berated and humiliated by imposing patriarch Max and his two sons: the suave, sexually aggressive Lenny and the brutish boxer Joey. The audience shall be left, like Max’s mild-mannered brother Sam, sitting very uncomfortably, unsure whether to laugh or cry.
It ran exceptionally smoothly for a rehearsal. However, the company assured me there were some creases I didn’t notice that require ironing out before they open this week at Porter’s (21st and 22nd) and subsequently at Chapter (24th).
Pinter is notorious for hinting at subtexts that are left unexplored. This company’s rehearsal process, however, aimed to delve deeper into each character’s past. Andreas Constantinou, who co-directs and plays pimping son Lenny, tells me, “We wanted to try and reveal the internal lives of the characters. And, in order to achieve that, we used improvisation to explore what these people went through beforehand. Pinter hints at all this but he never elaborates. There are only these words and subtle digs.”
This aspect is particularly evident in the character of Ruth, played as a femme fatale by Nerys Rees. She says, “One of the improvisations we tried was Ruth and Teddy’s time in America and it helped us discover a whole subtext that could translate into performance.”
“But why on earth should I see it?” I hear you (internally) ask. Well, here’s Constantinou’s opinion – “It’s darkly funny while being incredibly insightful. It reveals the uglier sides of human nature beneath the pleasant. And, of course, there’s the rampant, seething sexuality and barbarity.”
What more could you want?
ROGUE’Z production of The Homecoming is at Porter’s Cardiff on 21st and 22nd July and Chapter Arts Centre on 24th July 2014.