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Dysfunctional 'Homecoming' captivates


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POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2009

In the earliest episodes of “;Dallas,”; Bobby and his father were tough and ruthless members of a relentlessly dysfunctional family. Kennedy Theatre's production of Harold Pinter's 1965 vintage drama, “;The Homecoming,”; introduces a clan that makes the early Ewings look like Ozzie and Harriet.

As directed by Glenn Cannon, “;Homecoming”; is fascinating first-rate theater.

Two elderly brothers - Max, a widower, and Sam, never married - share their deceased parents' London home with Max's adult sons, Lenny and Joey.

Lenny, well-dressed and condescending, taunts his father when he isn't ignoring him.

               

     

 

'THE HOMECOMING'

        » Where: Kennedy Theatre, UH-Manoa
       

» When: 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday,

       

and 2 p.m. Sunday

       

» Cost: $20 reserved; $18 UH faculty/staff, seniors and military; $12 students; $5 UH students with student ID. Service charges included.

       

» Call: 944-2697 or visit www.etickethawaii.com

       

 

       

Joey, a member of the lower working class, seems a bit simple-minded by comparison; he hopes to make it big as a boxer.

Max speaks of the many sacrifices he made over the years supporting his family and various ailing or otherwise unproductive relatives. Sam speaks with pride of being a sought-after chauffeur who never intrudes on his clients' personal lives.

Max belittles Sam for being a lifelong bachelor and accuses him of being homosexual.

Into this nest of discord and discontent comes the oldest son, Teddy, visiting from America with his wife, Ruth.

Bad move, Teddy!

Tommy Barron (Lenny) dominates much of the early action. Imagine Mick Jagger as a pretentiously articulate thug, the personification of nastiness - Barron does it perfectly. The subtle shadings of character he brings to a pivotal scene with Jillian Blakkan-Strauss (Ruth) are a delight to watch. He brings the same attention to detail elsewhere.

Ian Falconer (Max) and Daniel D. Randerson (Sam) grow in stature as the action progresses and glimpses of the past slip into partial focus. They both give masterful performances as men trying to make sense of the present while protecting themselves from the consequences of past deeds or deeds undone.

Consequences of what?

Pinter is known for ambiguity. Nothing that anyone says conclusively establishes what happened between Max and his sons, between Max and his wife, or between Max and Sam and a third brother now deceased. Nor is it clear how well Teddy knew Ruth at the time of their marriage. None of it matters as the story plays out.

Bronzen Hahn (Joey), seen recently as the “;ruffian”; in Ernst Lab Theatre's production of “;The Nocturnal Wanderer,”; plays the would-be boxer as a child-man with a potential for violence; he, too, is a performer to watch. Ryan Wuestewald (Teddy) as the academic with a Ph.D. in philosophy gives a convincing portrayal of a man who seems a bit too fussy, a bit too detached, and who has a bit too much of the idealized stiff English upper lip to effectively assert himself.

Blakkan-Strauss completes the equation playing Pinter's female catalyst as a survivor who is bored with her marriage and tougher than her husband, mentally, and quite possibly physically as well.

Cannon does a masterful job with a talented cast.

David Gerke (scenic and properties designer) does award-worthy work in creating the physical ambiance of a crumbling English house and its furnishings.