The Homecoming is a play, set in North London and consists of 6 characters. Five working class men (all related) and one woman, Ruth. Teddy, one of the brothers returns home to London from America, where he has been living a better life with his wife. The four other men live in a house together where Jessie, the mother of the brothers died, and that role has not been occupied until Ruth arrives.
When Max, the father, sees Ruth he believes his son has brought a 'filthy scrubber' (like Jessie) back. The irony of the play is that his assumption of her at first comes to appear accurate towards the end.
In addition to the play being about Teddy's "homecoming", it suggests at the end that it is actually Ruth who symbolically comes home to 'herself' and rediscovers her previous identity prior to her marriage to Teddy.
This is one of the few books (plays) I have read and been hooked on from the simple reason of not understanding the plot at first, and being horrified upon understanding.
John Lahr wrote in the New Yorker, 'The Homecoming' changed my life. Before the play, I thought words were just vessels of meaning; after it, I saw them as weapons of defense. before, I thought theatre was about the spoken; after, I understood the eloquence of the unspoken. The position of a chair, the length of a pause, the choice of a gesture, I realized, could convey volumes.'