“THE HOMECOMING” – A Home Run at A.C.T.

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

THE HOMECOMING, now at the American Conservatory Theatre until March 27th, is a worthy presentation of Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter’s most provocative play. In the dank and lofty living room set designed by Daniel Ostling, the dark secrets and lurid dynamics of a crazed East End London family are wonderfully realized by director Carey Perloff and a well-appointed cast.

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THE HOMECOMING – Kenneth Welsh (Sam), Anthony Fusco (Teddy),
Jack Willis (Max), Adam O’Byrne (Joey), René Augesen (Ruth), and Andrew Polk (Lenny).
Photo, Kevin Berne

Jack Willis shines as the disgusting and beyond-overbearing father figure, “Max”. Anthony Fusco as “Teddy” evokes sympathy and impatience in his role as the Philosopher son who serves-up his idealized wife as both mother figure and family whore. René Augesen balances a sufficient display of sexual appeal, humor, and cold detachment in the enigmatic role of “Ruth”, Teddy’s wife. Supporting the household’s whirling dynamics of false-machismo, suppression, humiliation, and notions of who owns what or whom are Adam O’Byrne as the youngest son, “Joey” and Kenneth Welsh as Max’s malleable and feckless brother, “Sam”. But all the brilliance of playwright Harold Pinter’s carefully mapped vocabulary, relentless energy, his seething undercurrents, sudden crescendoes, and savory dollops of the characteristic rumbling but silent pause are exemplified in Andrew Polk’s sterling performance as the middle son, “Lenny”. Polk’s delectable timing and emotional range is symphonic in scope. In its entirety, The Homecoming is A.C.T.’s finest work of the 2011 season.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: The Homecoming

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Lenny (Andrew Polk) and Teddy (Anthony Fusco), Ruth (René Augesen)
Photo, Kevin Berne

Director Carey Perloff began her artistic relationship with Harold Pinter while she was the artistic director of Classic Stage Company in New York City, where she worked closely with the writer in staging his plays The Birthday Party and Mountain Language (American premiere). At A.C.T. she directed Old Times in 1998, as well as a double bill of Celebration (American premiere) and The Room in 2001. Perloff says of Pinter: “A writer of acute observation and meticulous precision, the late, great Harold Pinter is missed by all lucky souls who had the pleasure of working with him. Pinter’s theater, like his pauses, always leaves room for the audience to fill in the gaps with their own secrets, their own dreams, their own fears, their own imaginations. He was the least manipulative and, in some sense, the most generous (and wickedly funny) of playwrights. I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate his legacy than exploring The Homecoming, my favorite of all of Pinter’s plays, with our amazing core acting company.”

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HAROLD PINTER

HAROLD PINTER (Playwright) achieved international renown as one of the world’s most complex and challenging post–World War II dramatists. The son of a Jewish tailor, Pinter grew up in London’s working-class East End. He studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1948 but left after two terms to join a repertory company as a professional actor. In 1956 he began to write for the stage. The Room (1957) and The Dumb Waiter (1959), his first two plays, are one-act dramas that established the mood of comic menace that was to figure largely in his later works. His first full-length play, The Birthday Party, was first produced 1958, and his reputation as a unique voice was secured with The Caretaker (1960) and The Homecoming (1965). Many plays followed: Landscape (1969), Silence (1969), Night (1969), Old Times (1971), No Man’s Land (1975), Betrayal (1978), Moonlight (1993), and Celebration (2000). In the 1970s Pinter began directing both his own plays and the works of others. In addition to works for the stage, Pinter wrote radio and television dramas and a number of successful screenplays: The Servant (1963), Accident (1967), The Go-Between (1970), The Last Tycoon (1976), The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), the screen adaptation of his own play Betrayal (1983), The Handmaid’s Tale (1990), and Sleuth (2007). Pinter was also a noted poet, and his verse – such as that collected in War (2003) – often reflects his political views and involvement in numerous causes. In 2005 Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 2007 he was named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government.

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A.C.T.’s THE HOMECOMING
Set design by Daniel Ostling, lighting by Alexander V. Nichols
Photo, Kevin Berne

Click here to purchase tickets on-line: The Homecoming

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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