Bogosian & 'The Homecoming' Cast Dissect Pinter's Play in Talk-Back Series

Following the evening performance of Harold Pinter's 40th Anniversary revival of The Homecoming on February 5, playwright Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio) launched a series of post-show talkback discussions at the Cort Theatre.  Show time is 7 PM.

"Undoubtedly Pinter's most sexually provocative work, The Homecoming is an edgy and compelling tale of lust, betrayal and seduction, telling the story of a dysfunctional family that welcomes the homecoming of its estranged brother and competes for the attention of his dangerously alluring wife," explain press notes.

The Homecoming stars Golden Globe Award-winner Ian McShane, two-time Tony-nominee Raul Esparza, Tony-nominee Eve Best, Oscar-nominee Michael McKean, Gareth Saxe and James Frain. Tony Award-winner Daniel Sullivan directs.  Additional talkback sessions will be announced shortly.

After 2-hours of a gripping and wild-ride, audience members (itching for more Pinter and an opportunity to crack-open the mysteries of the play) stayed in their seats… Just five short minutes later stars Ian McShane, Michael McKean, Gareth Saxe and James Frain joined Eric Bogosian and Roy Harris (stage manager) on-stage for an engaging post-show discussion.

Each post-show discussion, moderated by Bogosian, feature some discussion amongst the actors (as we eaves-drop in) and includes a nice one-on-one question/answer session with the audience. Frain, who plays the intellectual brother, Teddy, was humored: "We never get to talk like this!"

Bogosian – "a huge Pinter fan" – is currently starring in NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and directed a production of Pinter's The Caretaker during his undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago in 1973.

Having seen the production twice, Bogosian was impressed with how richly each character has been defined on-stage and yet, how fresh the actors keep their relationships and each Pinter-esque nuisance brings new surprises to the story.

"You've got your own secret worlds for these guys, that you only want to keep to yourselves?" asked Bogosian to the stars, "For an audience to know what's happening only as it's happening for the first time is a whole different experience than to know what's going to happen having seen it before!"

Ian McShane underscored how grateful he is for the audience – "they react so differently each night." Frain laughed because he rates how great an audience is by how many times he hears someone utter "Jeezus!" from inside the house.

While The Homecoming is steeped in long pauses and truck-loads of subtext, Bogosian also pointed out the power of some of the long stretches of dialogue each character has – their own personal monologues that are either a string of nonsense words or which open a huge window into their character.  Ian McShane, who finds Pinter very funny, shared that Pinter used to be a sketch comedy writer before he began writing plays – so Pinter knows the "punch-line" to each of these speeches beforehand.

The Homecoming begins with Lenny (portrayed by Esparza) sitting on a couch reading the newspaper. His father, Max (McShane) enters the room asking for scissors. "The audience is going to start making up the story as soon as they see two men in a room," said Bogosian, "In a way, they impose their own imagination" to what may come next.

For Gareth Saxe (who portrays Joey, the less-articulate brother and boxer-in-training) navigating this play is "almost all physical, because [he] is receiving the action. Joey doesn't have the intellect or verbal-acuity as his father and brothers, so he's the punching-bag" metaphorically speaking. But Bogosian emphasized that "everybody gets their due. Pinter doesn't leave anyone out" when it comes to verbal or emotional abuse in this dysfunctional family.

Michael McKean explained that his changes in character are just coming more "into focus." There are little moments that keep the actors alive – like the relationship between Joey (Saxe) and Sam (McKean) has grown into sharper focus and adds a nice (though minute) new element.

Eager to join the conversation, the talk-back then turned to the audience. Questions included: "Is Lenny a reflection of his father?" – "Was Joey born to be the family shock-absorber? – "Is Ruth an object of woman or does she end up owning the men?"

Mystery after mystery, an evening with the precise cast of The Homecoming can leave one frozen in awe and thrown through a loop. But the post-show talk-backs offered by Bogosian and the providing cast shine an extra light on the power of Pinter's writing. The preciseness of each six actors is a winning combination and this 40th Anniversary revival is as stunning and surprising as ever before!

The performance schedule is as follows: Tuesday at 7PM, Wednesday-Saturday at 8PM, Wednesday & Saturday at 2PM, and Sunday at 3PM.  Tickets are priced at $26.50 - $98.50 and are currently available thru  Additional talk-backs will be announced shortly.

Eric Bogosian (photo by Walter McBride/Retna Ltd); Ian McShane as Max and Michael McKean as Sam (Opening Night photos by Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.)

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From This Author Eugene Lovendusky

Eugene Lovendusky graduated summa cum laude from SFSU with a BA in Writing for Electronic Media and a minor in Drama. Raised in the SF (read more...)