Review: Home, Arcola Theatre

“One works. One looks around. One meets people. But very little communication takes place”

An unexpected delight, David Storey’s much-celebrated but rarely performed Home proved to be something rather lovely in its strange way, almost anti-dramatic in its structure and conventions, but beautifully moving in its deliberate poetry and pitch-perfect performances. Amelia Sears’ production for SEArED reconfigures the smaller Arcola studio into the round and Naomi Dawson’s design is just beautiful, hinting at where we might be but carrying much of the ambiguity that is contained within the play itself.

We start with a gorgeous sequence between old hands Jack and Harry, bantering and chatting about the old days in a most fragmented way, lamenting the Britain of the past and delivering their old patter routines to while away the hours as if two old friends had just met up. But their reverie is shattered by the arrival of Kathleen and Marjorie as we soon realise that we’re actually in the grounds of a mental asylum, something confirmed by the final addition, the genuinely disturbed, and much younger, Alfred.

Thus the seeming pointlessness of the earlier chatter gains an almost unbearable poignancy and we come to understand that none of them have the chance of release, and that the things that they mourn are not just lost to them because of the past, but also in the present too. Britain has left them behind as we have abandoned so many of our old folk, and if Storey’s point about the decline of the nation feels a little stretched, it is hard to ignore in the quiet intensity of this production.

An energetic Paul Copley and a more studied Jack Shepherd are both excellent as Jack and Harry, Tessa Peake-Jones is sharp as a tack as Marjorie and Linda Broughton’s Kathleen finds some lovely tenderness amongst the vulgarity of her character. With Joseph Arkley bringing a strange concentrated passion as Alfred, it makes for an excellent revival. 

Running time: 2 hours
Booking until 23rd November

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