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Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Audience Comments for "The Homecoming"

I attended The Homecoming at the Haymarket Theatre last night and I highly HIGHLY recommend it. Nathan Weiss’s smiles are knife-like. Melissa Lewis is a hungry mannequin. Rob Burt’s silences scream. Absurdly cruel and hilarious. Go see it. I mean it.

I was unbelievably impressed with the show tonight -- not only with Bob Hall’s casting, and excellent direction, but with his truly mastered performance.

Rob Burt’s work in The Homecoming is probably the best I’ve seen him do . . . honest, controlled, interesting. Nicely done!

Nathan Weiss’s work in The Homecoming is fantastic.

I was blessed to watch some fantastic performers this evening. So long as people continue to produce shows of that caliber, theater in Lincoln will continue to be as powerful and relevant as I remember it being.

Just three more shows: April 30 and May 1-2 with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 general admission, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Reserve tickets by calling 402-477-2600 or visiting www.haymarkettheatre.org.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Audience Comments on "The Homecoming"

. . . really good. Bob Hall rocked the house and Nate Weiss was really funny. The whole cast did well, definitely a must see.

. . . terrific show. Don't miss it!

. . . probably the best work I have seen Melissa Lewis Nuss do. Such a controlled (in a good way) performance. That moment when she sat in Max’s chair was priceless . . . . this show deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

This is a first rate production of a play worth your time seeing and pondering. Very funny and very deadly. Great stuff. Every performance a GEM.

The show tonight was just superb on every level. I thought the acting was so, so good. I love the set and the lighting choices. The costumes were well chosen. I thought Bob Hall was wonderful as Max . . . I will spread the word because this deserves to be seen.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity and love theater, you must, must, must see this show It is superb in all its aspects. It will be worth your time and money well spent.

. . . just saw Bob Hall do the performance of his life . . .

It was great. I wanted to go home and shower . . . I felt grimy. Pinter would be pleased.

The Homecoming continues April 22-25, 29-30, and May 1-2 with performances Thurs.-Sat at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 general admission, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Reserve tickets by calling 402-477-2600 or visiting www.haymarkettheatre.org.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Pitch-Perfect Ensemble Cast!

Review from Star City Blog, April 17, 2010

All around the house, everyone is sound asleep, at least for the moment. As the stage lights come up, Teddy (Rob Burt), a doctor of philosophy, and his wife Ruth (Melissa Lewis Nuss) stand in the entryway, fresh off a plane from Italy, returned home to see Teddy’s irascible family for the first time in many years.

Ruth appears uncomfortable, even out of place, but Teddy reassures her. His family is just like any other family. He knows his father will be happy to see them. But somehow, deep underneath the surface, Ruth is preparing for the worst. Or is she?

Now playing at the Haymarket Theatre, Flatwater Shakespeare presents Harold Pinter’s 1965 masterwork The Homecoming, which opened this week and runs through May 2nd. In a month dominated by plays being performed throughout Lincoln, I say without reservation that The Homecoming is a must-see.

Director Bob Hall dons the role of Max, a curmudgeonly old hermit crab haunted by shadows of his former self and his late wife. He laments the sad state of his family with his brother Sam (Scott Glenn), a hardworking cab driver and two sons, Lenny (Nathan Weiss), a streetwise pimp, and Joey (Jeff Tinnean), an aspiring boxer. Teddy’s arrival, combined with the introduction of Ruth is the catalyst for a string of bizarre incidents that not only alter the already volatile atmosphere of his family’s dingy North London home, but irreparably changes its residents for better or worse.

The Homecoming, especially as it reaches its absurd climax in the second act, is a rare play that is open to much interpretation and debate, which those who attend any of the performances during its three week run will be privy to.

Hall and his cast have risen to meet the challenges of the text, embracing Pinter’s machine gun dialogue full of wit, malice, humor, and tragedy. They deftly exploit a full range of emotions in which what is unsaid, manifested in alarming silences between the characters, is as meaningful as what is being said. The Homecoming is populated with these sorts of exchanges -- expansive voids full of psychological dissonance that reveal the ties that bind and sometimes unwind.

In short, this is Bob Hall at his best. From the illustration on the front of the program, to the set design, the staging, and his bravura performance as Max, his vision as an artist shines throughout many aspects of the production. But Hall’s brilliance would not be half of what it is without the support of a pitch-perfect ensemble cast. Burt, Weiss (possessing a cutting, Jude Law-like charisma), Tinnean, Glenn, and the ever-radiant and mesmerizing Melissa Lewis Nuss match Hall’s performance as well as each other’s beat for beat. Come for the heart-rending humor and the drama of Pinter’s razor sharp dialogue, stay for the incredible performances from the cast.

There are no happy endings, no neat and tidy resolutions to the central conflicts in the play. Max and his misbegotten family attempt to make sense of their shared pasts, plan for the future, or die trying. Or do they really?

“Nothing’s changed, says Teddy, early in Act I, “Still the same.”

How true.

The Homecoming runs April 15-18, 22-25, 29-30, and May 1-2 with performances Thurs.-Sat at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 general admission, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. Reserve tickets by calling 402-477-2600 or visiting www.haymarkettheatre.org.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tremendous Acting

Review from the Lincoln Journal Star, April 16, 2010

Family dysfunction was on display Thursday night at the Haymarket Theatre in the Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming.

The Bob Hall-directed work was well performed -- so much so that audience members went from laughing out loud to squirming in their seats without even realizing it.

The Homecoming is set in working-class North London in the 1960s, where widower Max, a retired butcher, lives with his brother, Sam, and two younger sons, Lenny and Joey.

The apple cart is upset when Max’s eldest son, Teddy, returns for a visit with his wife of six years, Ruth, whom the family has never met.

The woman, portrayed by Melissa Lewis Nuss, has a strange effect on the men in the house, leading to a second act that only can be described as bizarre and unpredictable.

Pinter’s script, now considered a classic, will leave audience members wondering who is in control and who is being manipulated.

Of course, for this to work requires tremendous acting, and Hall draws it from his stellar cast, which includes himself as the bullying family patriarch.

Watching Hall and Nuss square off in the absurd British comedy is comparable to Archie Bunker meeting Sharon Stone’s character from Basic Instinct.

I will let you decide who comes out on top.

The supporting players were effective, too, with Rob Burt, Nathan Weiss and Jeff Tinnean each finding the right characteristics needed in the three very different sons.

Scott Glen also excelled as the brother, more by what he didn’t say on stage than what he did.

Glen had a way with Pinter’s trademark silences, as did the wide-eyed Nuss, who often did more with a look than with any of the playwright’s words. She and Weiss, who played the sleazy middle son, Lenny, were the reasons for all the squirming.

Flatwater produced an extremely unsettling evening of theater. That’s a compliment to the performances found in Pinter’s unusual story.

Photo: Playwright Harold Pinter in the 1960s, when The Homecoming was first staged.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Opening Tomorrow Night!



Harold Pinter's The Homecoming has been described as "perhaps the most cruel play ever written and certainly one of the funniest." It's a devastating look at the ties that bind families together. It explores the fine line between love and hate – and wonders if such a line exists at all.

The setting is a working-class neighborhood in North London in the 1960s. Max, a retired butcher, lives in an old house there with his brother, Sam, and his two younger sons, Lenny and Joey. One night, Max's oldest son, Teddy, returns for a visit with his wife, Ruth. As the play unfolds, the tensions, power struggles, nostalgia, and resentments continue to build.

Director Bob Hall – Nebraska's 2010 Artist of the Year – is also featured as the family patriarch, Max. Rob Burt is the modern-day prodigal, Teddy, and Melissa Lewis Nuss is Ruth. Scott Glen appears as Sam, while Nathan Weiss and Jeff Tinnean play Lenny and Joey.

Dates: April 15-18, 22-25, 29-30, May 1-2
Time: All shows at 7:30 p.m. except for Sundays at 2:00

Place: The Haymarket Theatre, 803 “Q” St. Lincoln
Tickets: (402) 477-2600

$18 Adults; $15 Seniors; $10 Students

Photo: Bob Hall as Max and Melissa Lewis Nuss as Ruth in the Flatwater/Haymarket production of The Homecoming.