Review by Andrea Carpenter
The start of David Storeyï¿½s Home does all it can to lull us into a false sense of security. Two dapper British gentlemen meet for a spot of genteel conversation in their favourite sunny spot. They take us back to a bygone era when a three-piece suit was the mark of a man and military service provided the moral fibre. Even the formal manicured privet hedges of the staging support the upright nature of their seemingly benign conversation.
But once their places are taken by two women their cover is blown. The female conversation highlights divisions of sex and class as well as of neurosis as we start to understand that the idyllic setting is in fact the grounds of an institution.
British author and playwright Storey likes to explore the isolation of men and this play is no exception. The two female characters offer the men the chance to connect and they struggle with it. Both continually back off from talk of Kathleenï¿½s inability to keep to herself clothed decently and the tales of Marjorieï¿½s unexplained crying fits. Instead they prefer the clipped conversations of the upper classes which are exposed by the more realistic coarser talk of the woman.
It is a play with little action and its success falls to the ability of the actors to use the fragmented and often disconnected conversations to express these emotional divisions and their inner sadness.
Simon Jones and Larry Keith both achieve this with restrained yet meaningful performances. There is poignancy to Jonesï¿½ daft and seemingly harmless character as well as Keithï¿½s prudish gent as they display the fragility behind their denial. The naturalistic style of their punctuated conversations is also a credit to their performances.
The women's accents take the occasional regional wander around the UK (a point only a picky Brit like myself would notice) but both Cynthia Harris and Cynthia Darlow as Marjorie and Kathleen provide a wonderful balance to the men's restraint. They are more animated but through subtle performances driven by facial expressions rather than action and which are supported by Scott Alan Evansï¿½ sensitive direction.
For me, there is a Britishness to this play as part of its message relies on class differences to explore its themes. However, that doesnï¿½t detract from its relevance here as it has universal messages about those suffering the stigma and loneliness of mental illness despite the company of those in the same position. It is also refreshing to see a play which allows the years of experience from four veteran actors to shine through.
What the press had to say.....
NEIL GENZLINGER of the NEW YORK TIMES: ï¿½ 'Home,' a portrait of four fragile people in a home for the mentally disturbed or disabled, is achingly beautiful, especially as staged by the Actors Company Theate"
KARL LEVETT of BACKSTAGE: "David Storey's delicate and tender 1970 play, seemingly small but by play's end remarkably substantial....This production, ably directed by Scott Alan Evans, is up to TACT's usual high standard."
External links to full reviews from newspapers