Theatre Review: Home
By Allan Gould
Maria Vacratsis, Michael Hanrahan, Oliver Dennis and Brenda Robins in Soulpepper’s Home
Home, the latest production from the superlative Soulpepper theatre, is a 1970 British comedy (actually, make that tragicomedy). It is a short one-act play of less than 80 minutes that has a secret at its core; well, a sort-of secret anyway — most will figure it out early in the performance.
The play is by the superb novelist and playwright David Storey, whose earlier work, This Sporting Life, has been made into a wonderful film. There is a great beauty in his writing, even though it did not grab and twist my heart as much as I had expected it to (I’ll take Samuel Beckett any day of the week over almost any other playwright of the 20th century, and I am counting the days until Soulpepper presents his devastating Endgame later this year).
But don’t let me put you off from seeing Home, which is nearly sold out for most of its run in the Distillery District. Typically of Soulpepper, the acting is sheer perfection, and we experience the magnificent Oliver Dennis as Jack, a touching and vague Michael Hanrahan as Harry, a dirty-talking Brenda Robins as Kathleen and a bitter Maria Vacratsis as Marjorie.
On a nearly bare set, empty except for a few metal lawn chairs and a table, with a projection of slowly moving clouds behind them, we hear some very sharp dialogue. One character considered the priesthood, but says he couldn’t make up his mind between Catholicism and Anglicanism. Among the other witticisms that fly are: “Have you noticed that musicians all have curly hair?” and “My husband cleans up muck. Why can’t he get a clean job?” And, most thoughtfully, “Life is such a mystery!” Indeed it is.
Home leaves itself open to endless speculation about its meaning, and at times it seems classically absurdist — a now rarely-performed style of theatre. However, one thing is certain: Albert Schultz’s direction is masterful and, as in the best of theatre, when you aren’t laughing, you may well find yourself crying.
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane, 416-866-8666. To June 20.
Allan Gould is Post City Magazines’ theatre critic. He has a Ph.D. in english and theatre from York University and has written over 40 books. His writing has appeared in Toronto Life, Chatelaine, en Route, Canadian Business, Good Times and Financial Post. He is married with two children. Aside from his family, his major passions are theatre and film, because they enrich life with pleasure and meaning.