Drawing: The Homecoming at the Trafalgar Studios

The Homecoming

Fifty years after it premiered in London, director Jamie Lloyd staged the anniversary production of Harold Pinter’s THE HOMECOMING at the Trafalgar Studios over the last three months.  Considered by many to be the English playwright’s masterpiece, the play opened at the Aldwych Theatre in June 1965, before its Broadway premiere two years later at The Music Box.

The story revolves around a villainous family and an unexpected reunion. This domestic war zone is inhabited by six characters, five of whom are male and related. Prodigal son and Philosophy Professor Teddy (Gary Kemp) returns home from America with his pretty but disturbed wife Ruth (Gemma Chan) to his grotty North London home, where retired butcher and fading family patriarch, (or as critic Dominic Cavendish calls him ‘paterfamilias’) Max (Ron Cook) exists with his camp chauffeur brother Sam (Keith Allen) and two sons, the quick-witted and toxic pimp Lenny (John Simm) and the dim-witted demolition man and  boxer-in-training Joey (John Macmillan).

“Jamie Lloyd’s excellent revival offers a fresh approach to the play without in any way violating the rhythms of Pinter’s text,” wrote Michael Billington in The Guardian.

This montage sketch took a few attempts to get graphed. Between the inclement weather, cast illness and exit variations,  I eventually managed to get it all sorted after the final matinee on Saturday.

Drawing: Gemma Chan in Yellow Face at The National Theatre

Gemma Chan

This mischievous comedy was performed in The Shed at the National Theatre last month featuring Gemma Chan in its ensemble cast. Written by Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang, it starts with his key role in the US Actors Equity Association protests against the casting of Jonathan Pryce as the Eurasian engineer in the Broadway version of Miss Saigon.

Many Asian-Americans and others regarded this as an example of “yellow face” casting – a caucasian actor applying make-up to portray a character of Asian descent.

Its a ‘mockumentary’ about an Asian-American playwright who, after protesting the casting of Price, accidentally casts a white actor as the Asian lead in his own play Face Value believing him to be of mixed race. He discovers that he is 100% white and tries to cover up to protect his reputation as an Asian-American role model.

It is notable that the National Theatre’s Artistic Director, Nicholas Hytner was the director of Miss Saigon. He amusingly programmed Yellow Face to run in the exact month Saigon returned to the West End. Oxford educated Gemma hailed her breakthrough in “colour-blind casting” when she won her first classical role in theatre, playing the war goddess Athena in Our Ajax at the Southwark Playhouse in 2013. The Sherlock and Jack Ryan actress still believes that actors of East Asian descent still don’t get opportunities white actors do. “I have to fight hard to get parts that don’t have something to do with China,” she said in a recent interview.