HOME: Small Talk
by Michael Dale
December 9, 2006
To say that nothing really happens in David Storey’s 1970 Tony-nominated play Home, now getting a charming, moving and extremely well-acted mounting from The Actors’ Company Theatre (TACT), would be accurate, but terribly misleading. You see, there’s very little I can tell you of the plot. Even revealing the setting of the play would give away a detail best discovered when the playwright deems appropriate. I suppose we can call this review a bit of a trust exercise between critic and reader. The play is warm, funny and delightful and the production is sterling, but I can’t exactly tell you why without ruining a moment.
What I can tell you is that it begins with Harry (Larry Keith) and Jack (Simon Jones), two polite and well-groomed English gentlemen making pleasant conversation on a lovely day. They talk of current events, the weather, family histories and assorted whatnots, but with a noticeable avoidance of personal details. They chat in terse, guarded rhythms, peppered with pauses, shifts in subject and non-sequiturs into unexpected subjects. (“Did you know if you put jam into small cardboard containers it will sell far better than if you put it into large glass jars?”)
They’re followed by the musings of Kathleen (Cynthia Darlow), who can’t seem to keep her skirt down and is prone to bursts of silly laughter, and the uptight and paranoid Marjorie (Cynthia Harris). Their conversation raises the level of absurdity (“My lucky day’s the last Friday in any month with an ‘r’ in it when the next month doesn’t begin later than the following Monday.”)
Eventually entering the mix is Alfred (Ron McClary), a gentle fellow with child-like tendencies who is nevertheless a menacing presence.
Without a linear plot, Storey’s dialogue gradually makes the situation of the characters clear with little direct discussion of the matter. Director Scott Alan Evans conducts the rhythms of the text impeccably, balancing humor and compassion. The simply perfect cast subtly reveals unspoken details that suggest each character’s emotional state though nearly unnoticeable gestures and expressions that seem inconsequential at first, but gradually gain significance.
Likewise, the work of set designer Mimi Lien seems deceptively simple at first. David Toser's character costumes, Daryl Bornstein's tranquil sound design and Mary Louise Geiger’s moody lighting all add to a first-rate production.
With tickets at only $20 and not a bad seat in the house, TACT’s production of Home is mandatory for playgoers seeking affordable, high quality theatre.