Harold Pinter - Comedy of Menace

Comedy of Menace
Comedy of menace is a term first used by David Campton. It denotes a kind of play in which one or more characters feel that they are (or actually are) threatened by some obscure and frightening force, power personality, ect. The fear and menace become a source of comedy, albeit laconic, grim or black. The playwright's objective in mixing comedy and the threat of menace is to produce certain effects (like set up dramatic tension, or to convey certain social or political ideas) .
In The Homecoming, the comedy of menace is implicated through the use of lanaguage. Language, in Pinter's hands, is a weapon. Put into the mouths of characters like Lenny and Max, it seeks to hurt others. The introductory scene shows both men using language to attack and defend. Max speaks of Jessie with both fondness and shocking disapproval-' 'She wasn't such a bad woman. Even though it made me sick just to look at her rotten stinking face, she wasn't such a bad bitch." Lenny tells Max to shut up and then says that Max's cooking is fit only for dogs. Sam enters and Max insults him about his driving and the fact that he is not married. Joey enters from a workout at the gym, and Max turns on him, saying that his trouble as a boxer is that he doesn't know how to attack or defend himself. Max also threatens to throw Sam out when he is too old to pay his way. Thus, by belittling and verbally abusing the other characters, Lenny and Max can keep them off guard and control them.
When Lenny tells stories about the tart down by the harbour and the old woman that he beat up to intimidate Ruth, this is also seen as a comedy of menace.   In an effort to gain power control, Lenny tries to capture Ruth’s attention, but she defeats him with her proposition in seducing Lenny in the give and take exchange scene:

Lenny: Give me the glass
Ruth: No
Lenny: I’ll take it
Ruth: If you take the glass…I’ll take you
Lenny: How about me taking the glass without you taking me?
Ruth: Why don’t...