My Photo
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

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


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home