Review: Home (Soulpepper Theatre Company)

 

The characters delight in Home, playing in Toronto’s Distillery District

David Storey’s play Home captivated the audience within the first three minutes. We were laughing even though we really didn’t have any idea what was happening or where the play was set. We knew geographically that it was England; the actors had English accents. Other than that…

And that’s all I’m going to say about the story, any more and I would spoil it.

Home is an ensemble piece about relationships that develop when we’re out of our element. The plot is so minimal that it’s almost non-existent. Not a lot happens in the hour and twenty minutes of the play. It’s the characters that hold our attention as we slowly learn the where and why of the story. This is a play that calls for nuanced performances. With a strong talented cast it’s wonderful. With a lessor cast it would be a disaster.

It’s also a play that has to be set in a certain time in England. The dialogue is very specific to a time and place. Home was written in the late sixties and seems to take place in the fifties, possibly the early sixties. Not only do the actors have to be talented enough to carry off the performance, they have to do it with an accent.

The accents were great. The actors sustained them and still spoke clearly enough that I could hear them. This might not seem like a big thing but bad accents make me crazy.

Home must have been a surprise to theatre goers when it was first performed in 1970. Nothing really goes in a straight line. There are silences on stage, terse exchanges between two of the characters and non-sequitors abound. Slowly – with a phrase here and a look there – we begin to figure out the where of the piece and to some extent the why and how of the characters.

The cast – Oliver Dennis, Michael Hanrahan, Brenda Robins, Andre Sills and Maria Vacratsis – work together perfectly. Even though I said that nothing much happens you have to watch all the characters carefully, not just the character who is speaking, so that you don’t miss anything. My friend Elaine said that it would be interesting to see the play again now that we know the story so that we could really concentrate on the nuances.

Home is a play that seems very simple but becomes more layered as you think about it. And I will be thinking about it. It’s well worth seeing.

Details:

Home is playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (33 Mills St) until May 20, 2012
– Performances are at 7.30 with matinees on most Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1.30
– Tickets range from $32.00 to $68.00
– Tickets are available online, at the box office and by phone at 416.866.8666

Photo of Maria Vacratsis, Michael Hanrahan, Oliver Dennis & Brenda Robins by Cylla von Tiedemann