Home, written by David Storey is not action packed—in fact the show takes place on a nearly bare stage with the actors mainly stationary for the duration of the play, but the contents of this material are rife with emotion and surprising turns.
Apparently the playwright wrote all his plays in two or three days and had only seen a handful of theatre before he ventured into the realm. Perhaps this is why I found this show so refreshingly genuine. The audience does not get the full picture of what is really going on until late in the experience and I will not spoil that revelation here.
Two men meet at what appears to be a park. The men seem to know each other casually and speak at length, jumping from one topic to another. Some thoughts are completed and others are not and the audience becomes an active member of the show, filling in the blanks and imagining what they are seeing unfold before them. There is something quite thrilling about it. There is such musicality to this first scene and it is an absolute joy to watch actors Oliver Dennis (Jack) and Michael Hanrahan (Harry) in their nearly pitch perfect verbal tennis match.
We are then introduced to the remaining three characters who also inhabit this strange world. For me, the first scene between the two female characters did not work as well as the opening scene. Suddenly the style seemed to shift and although I was still enjoying the ride, it wasn’t as pleasurable. Finally all four main characters are brought together and gaps begin to be filled as the puzzle pieces are placed.
The women Brenda Robins (Kathleen) and Maria Vacratsis (Marjorie) make bold character choices which greatly contrast the men. Although I understand the choice of having Robins have an odd laugh/gesture each time there was a sexual double entendre, I am not sure it entirely worked. The laugh did not seem to happen organically, so at times it just didn’t land well. It is surprising but I found that it really affected those scenes.
Overall the acting was strong with a particularly solid performance delivered by Hanrahan. He is absolutely delightful to watch, fully engaged and present. Dennis also does lovely work. I could have happily just watched the two of them banter back and forth for the full 90 minutes. Robins and Vacratsis each bring an interesting eccentricity to their characterization. Also enjoyable was Andre Sills who played the smaller role of Alfred. He brought some quirky humour to the mix though his accent was floating around a bit.
Home Director Albert Schultz does a good job of not interfering too much with the script by keeping the set sparse and the staging simple. Storey’s tale is interesting enough that it just requires strong, committed performances and finding the right rhythm to make for an enjoyable evening of theatre.
I almost always enjoy Soulpepper’s work and Home is no exception. Definitely worth a look.
Home runs through June 20th. For more information or tickets please visit: http://www.soulpepper.ca/