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A Homecoming worth embracing Add to ...

The Homecoming at a glance: Professor of philosophy Teddy (Mike Shara) returns from America with his wife, Ruth (Cara Ricketts), to meet the working-class family in North London. It's not exactly a happy homecoming – Teddy's father Max (Brian Dennehy) and brothers Lenny (Aaron Krohn) and Joey (Ian Lake) use the occasion as an excuse to take a vacation from attacking each other and set upon the pair. But who will get the upper hand at the end?

First impression: Comedy and menace are balanced just right in Jennifer Tarver's unsettling production of Harold Pinter's 1964 hit. In particular, two cast members visiting from America are top-notch. Tony winner Dennehy owns the stage as an amused bully of a patriarch, a retired butcher carving up his boys in retirement for fun. The brilliant Aaron Krohn, meanwhile, delivers every one of Lenny's sardonic lines like he's whipping out a pocket-knife to your gut; he gets the final bow – and for good reason.

Highlights: An all-around impressive cast. Ian Lake is very funny as a boxer who seems to have sustained too many blows to the head already, while Cara Ricketts is cool as a cucumber as the mysterious Ruth and holds her own against this pack of males. Let's hope Harold Pinter takes up regular residence in Stratford.

The nitpicks: Shara's Teddy can be a tad too goofy at times – and matters aren't helped by a giant turtleneck that threatens to swallow him in the second half.

Audience's instant reaction: Pause for reflection, before a standing ovation.

Critic's instant reaction: Four stars (rating subject to change – for full review, see Saturday's Globe and Mail)

The Homecoming

* Written by Harold Pinter

* Directed by Jennifer Tarver

* Starring Brian Dennehy, Aaron Krohn, Cara Ricketts

* At the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ont.

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