Theater Spotlight: The Homecoming

Clockwise from top left: Charles Hubbell, Jim Pounds, Gabriel Angieri, Ian Miller, Katherine Kupiecki, David Tufford
Matt Sciple

Harold Pinter's arsenic valentine takes place entirely in the living room of a north London home inhabited by men who range from vile to shattered. There's the foul-mouthed patriarch Max (Gabriel Angieri), who extols the memory of his late wife only to assert in the next breath, "it made me sick just to look at her rotten, stinking face." He's well matched with his oily son Lenny (Charles Hubbell), an unspecified lowlife with the moral compass of a feverish jackal. Brother Joey (Ian Miller) doesn't seem so bad at first, but just wait. Finally, there is Max's brother Sam (Jim Pounds), a chauffeur when not indulging in household bickering and moments of catatonia. Small wonder that Max's eldest, Teddy (David Tufford), hasn't been home in years; he returns in due course, a university professor and father of three with his lovely wife, Ruth (Katherine Kupiecki), on his arm. What follows is a slow-motion evisceration of social mores, concepts of achievement and erudition, and pretty much anything resembling commonly held standards of decency. This being Pinter, the crudity is rendered with a surgeon's delicacy, and every flash of emotion is delivered like a smoking ruin of a past in which nothing went right. Matt Sciple directs, with a sense of appropriate respect for Pinter's dialogue and without resorting to emotional extremes or reinvention (neither is necessary, not with an abundance of spiky moments that resemble touching a flaming-hot stove that you thought was cold). Angieri probably could open the throttle a bit, veering more from the mean between Max's rages and his sugary sentimentality, but his physical presence is spot-on, and he gained traction throughout the evening on opening night. Pounds is laconic and long-suffering, lying in wait to deliver a devastating final line to which no one in the play really listens. And Kupiecki, in many ways portraying the emotional center of things, lends an off-kilter distance and enigmatic sensuality that nicely underscore the brash emotional horror that occurs before the lights go down for the evening. This is a very solid rendering of a terribly great play. $20, under 30 pay half your age. 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 4 p.m. Sun. 2400 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.228.7008. Through February 21

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