The Homecoming is a play by Harold Pinter, first published in 1965. The play has six characters, five of them men. The plot involves the eldest son in the family's wife coming home with him for the first time from the United States and experiencing the working class London background that he grew up with. Much sexual tension is created throughout the play as his wife taunts his brothers.
There is also a power struggle going on between the two more dominant men; Lenny and Max. Max puts down the other men by feminising them, while Lenny destroys Max's memory of the past. At the end, Ruth appears to have the power as the men appear to be meeting her demands. But the final tableau may be deceiving and the ending ambiguous.
A significant staging feature is the absence of a previous wall in the house. This symbolises the absence of the female influence. When Ruth (Teddy's wife) returns, she is asked to remain in London as the family's mother figure and also their prostitute (replacing the hole left when Max's wife Jessie died).
Teddy leaves without his wife to return to America and Ruth says "Eddie. Don't become a stranger." Use of the unfamiliar nickname Eddie connotates perhaps that he is already a stranger to her.
The real homecoming is that of the mother role (now Ruth). As the play reveals that the dead mother Jessie was once a prostitute and MacGregor her pimp, Ruth appears to be taking on this mother's role that has been so craved by Lenny especially. Lenny spends a lot of time thinking of his mother in a sexual context, hence the questions about his conception, perhaps that is why he has become a pimp himself in Soho.
The cruel underbelly of society in the 60s surfaces almost surreally with sexually explicit themes and themes of violence. Pauses mark the jockeying for power among the somewhat disjointed family, and the struggle for domination enhances what can be perceived as the harsh working class reality of the time.
This play challenges the place of morals in a family unit, with Teddy's Philosophical connections prehaps hinting on the question, what are morals really and do we actually need them to exist in a sustainable way.
Productions of the play have won major theater awards. For example, the 1967 New York production received four Tony Awards: the "Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play" (Paul Rogers), the "Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play" (Ian Holm), the "Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play" (Peter Hall), and the "Tony Award for Best Play" (Alexander H. Cohen, prod.).