Ian's Something to Write Holm About

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Byline: MICHAEL COVENEY

Ian's something to write Holm about The Homecoming (Comedy Theatre) Verdict: Ian Holm returns in gleeful savagery to PInter classic .

Afore Night Come (Young Vic) Verdict: Rustic fruit-picking turns pear-shaped TWO modern classics of the 1960s, first presented in the early years of the Royal Shakespeare Company, hit home with considerable force this week.

You wonder how many of today's new plays at the RSC and Royal Court will strike as many chords, and remain as compelling, 40 years from now.

Harold Pinter's The Homecoming (1965) and David Rudkin's Afore Night Come (1962) show men behaving badly in domestic and social circumstances of heightened theatrical tension.

The Homecoming is also a Holmcoming: Ian Holm played Lenny, one of three grownup sons in a musty North London house, in the original production. He was unforgettable then, playing the role back to hunchback with Richard III.

Now he plays the widowed, retired butcher, Max, with exactly the same whiplash attack and dangerous glee.

Max is a growling, stick-wielding 70-year-old, an overbearing Dad who had fun at bathtimes with his sons.

A repressed history of sexual abuse and macho territorialism is stamped right through Robin Lefevre's revival.

Teddy, the educated son who escaped from this all-male mausoleum, brings home his wife Ruth, a former model, after six years away.

Ruth responds to Lenny (Ian Hart) and his fantasy of seduction by acknowledging his desire, and her glazed unhappiness is thawed in erotic savagery.

She dances with Lenny, rolls on the sofa under his dim boxer brother (Jason O'Mara) and agrees to stay on as an all-purpose mother and lover, with a prostitution job on the side in Soho.

Lia Williams is a tremendous Ruth: crossing her legs, or simply drinking a glass of water, she is come-hither sensuality personified in a platinum blonde hairdo, eyes and lips idly half-open.

Lenny's request for just a touch, or a tickle, unleashes the full power of her pent-up femininity, and she slouches, slinkily, to Max's throne-like armchair.

Nick Dunning plays the academic philosopher Teddy, a man who cannot answer the simplest question if it is not in his 'province', with the smarmy selfassurance of an exile from his own background. …