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075 – The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter

075 – The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter

Lisa Diveney as Ruth and Joe Cole as Lenny
Young Vic Theatre
December 2023
Photo by Dean Chalkley

075 – The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter

It is 1965 in a house in North London lived in by a father, two of his three grown-up sons and his brother. This all-male household is a fractious one, their combative instincts unchecked without the ameliorating influence of a mother. But their long-established routines and rivalries are about to be dramatically disrupted by the unannounced arrival of the third son, who has been living in America and not been back for some years. He brings with him his wife, a woman the family did not know existed, and whose provocative presence will bring unexpected changes to all of their lives.

This is Harold Pinter’s disturbing exploration of toxic masculinity and sexual maneuvering, The Homecoming. The play’s portrait of misogyny, and even more disturbing, the apparent female complicity, was shocking at the time it was written. Nearly 60 years on the sexual politics is if anything even more difficult to watch. So what was Pinter’s purpose in presenting such a provocative piece, and how do we process it in the post Me-Too age?

As we record this episode a new production of The Homecoming is currently playing at the Young Vic theatre in London. I am delighted to be joined by the show’s director, Matthew Dunster, who can help us answer those questions about Pinter’s challenging classic.

We covered another Pinter play, Betrayal, in episode 6 of the podcast:
06 – Betrayal, by Harold Pinter. 

Matthew Dunster

Matthew Dunster is a director, actor and playwright, who over the past 15 years has directed more than 50 plays, including productions at the RSC, the Royal Exchange in Manchester, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and the Globe theatre, where he was Associate Director from 2015-2017.

He has had a special relationship with Martin McDonagh, having directed three of his plays including A Very Very Very Dark Matter, Hangmen at both the Royal Court and on Broadway, and most recently The Pillowman in the West End.

Matthew is also responsible for two of the West End’s recent hits, 2:22 – A Ghost Story and Shirley Valentine starring Sheridan Smith.

 

Recommended Play

Matthew recommended Attempts on her Life by Martin Crimp.

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075 – The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter

075 – The Homecoming, by Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter’s disturbing exploration of toxic masculinity and sexual maneuvering, The Homecoming premiered in 1965. The play’s portrait of misogyny, and even more disturbing, the apparent female complicity, was shocking at the time it was written. Nearly 60 years on the sexual politics is if anything even more difficult to watch. So what was Pinter’s purpose in presenting such a provocative piece, and how do we process it in the post Me-Too age?

I am joined by Matthew Dunster, the director of a scintillating new production of the play at the Young Vic in London, who can help us answer those questions about Pinter’s challenging classic.

Lisa Diveney as Ruth at the Young Vic – photo by Dean Chalkley.

074 – Ghosts, by Henrik Ibsen

074 – Ghosts, by Henrik Ibsen

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Hattie Morahan as Helene Alving at the Sam Wanamaker Theatre, London, December 2023. Photo by Marc Brenner.

Matthew Dunster

Matthew Dunster

Matthew Dunster

Matthew Dunster is a director, actor and playwright, who over the past 15 years has directed more than 50 plays, including productions at the RSC, the Royal Exchange in Manchester, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and the Globe theatre, where he was Associate Director from 2015-2017.

He has had a special relationship with Martin McDonagh, having directed three of his plays including A Very Very Very Dark Matter, Hangmen at both the Royal Court and on Broadway, and most recently The Pillowman in the West End.

Matthew is also responsible for two of the West End’s recent hits, 2:22 – A Ghost Story and Shirley Valentine starring Sheridan Smith.

Recommended Play(s)

Matthew recommended Attempts on her Life by Martin Crimp.