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.

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