This is it. It’s official. I am absolutely theatre-crazy and I need to be committed soon and commenced on some kind of treatment. But what exactly would do me good? I’d say doses and doses of productions with Simon Russell Beale please! And you know what, I am getting it alright, thanks to the National’s upcoming new season of plays from May to August which will include Harold Pinter’s A Slight Ache starring my dear SRB and Clare Higgins. It will play before Never So Good at the Lyttelton, all tickets only for £10. More performances have also been announced for Major Barbara and it looks like I am going to see it again more than once! YAY!
I thought Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis is quite interesting with Corin Redgrave reviving his NT performance from 2000, it will play before sister Vanessa’s The Year of Magical Thinking also at the Lyttelton. Director Katie Mitchell is back at the National this time on …some trace of her, inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot which she also adapted. It stars Ben Whishaw (Perfume) and Hattie Morahan (Sense & Sensibility) whom Mitchell also directed in Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, also at the National.
There are a lot of new productions at the National for this summer but these are the ones I was very keen on seeing so I just booked them. Public booking is not open until 22 April but if you join as an advanced member you can start booking now.
Visit the National’s website here
Plot: Set in North London, the play has six characters: five men who are related––Max (Kenneth Cranham), a retired butcher, and Sam (Anthony O’Donnell), a chauffeur, who are brothers; and Max’s three sons, Teddy (Neil Dudgeon), an expatriate American philosophy professor; Lenny (Nigel Lindsay), who appears to be a pimp; and Joey (Danny Dyer), a would-be boxer in training who works in demolition; and one woman, Ruth (Jenny Jules), Teddy’s wife. The plot involves Teddy bringing home his wife, Ruth, for the first time from the United States to the working-class North London environment where he grew up and which she finds more familiar than their arid academic world in America. Much sexual tension occurs as his wife teases Teddy’s brothers and father and the men taunt one another in a game of oneupmanship.
I saw my first play at the Almeida back in 2003, with Joanna Laurens’ Five Gold Rings. So it was a thrill to come back after 5 years, this time watching my very first Harold Pinter production of The Homecoming. I was also thrilled to see Kenneth Cranham (HBO’s Rome, Hot Fuzz) perform on stage, again for the first time.
Directed by Michael Attenborough, this is an excellent revival of Pinter’s black comedy of brute alienation and sentimentality. In the performances, Cranham is just fantastic. His Max was fearful and all that bottled up rage is palpable long after the play has finished. But I suppose the genius was in the casting of Jenny Jules as Ruth, her coolness and seemingly calculating subtle manipulation is just what the family ordered. It’s not an easy production to watch with all the morality play and if Pinter might have left his options open as to what has to become of Ruth and this revival might have implied otherwise with such panache.
The Homecoming: 4/5
Playing at the Almeida until March 22