By Geoff Sobelle; Directed by Lee Sunday Evans
Produced by Beth Morrison Projects
Part of BAM's 2017 Next Wave Festival
Off Broadway, Physical Theater
Ran through 12.10.17
BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street
by Adrienne Urbanski on 12.13.17
Sophie Bortolussi, Justin Rose, and Geoff Sobelle in HOME. Photo by Maria Baranova.
BOTTOM LINE: This innovative production offers a singular theatrical experience that reflects on what, both literally and emotionally, creates "home."
The memories of the homes we grew up in often return to us, both in our dreamscapes and in our future perceptions of what a home is. Even now I can still remember the layout of my childhood homes, and whenever I imagine a home it has one of those layouts. In dreams I return to these layouts in new circumstances, my brain forever stuck in my childhood feeling of home.
Geoff Sobelle's experimental play HOME is a lamentation on the importance that "home" plays in our minds and memories. It focuses on the feeling and meaning of a home, both literal and metaphorical, eschewing a linear script in favor of thematical exploration. Sobelle himself first appears on stage putting together the bare wooden structure of his future home, and then later on he's in his underwear as he climbs into bed. In the blink of an eye he is switched out with a young blonde boy (Josh Crouch), perhaps representing Sobelle remembering the home of his youth. As the play goes on an entire two-story house is constructed in front of our eyes. Actor and musician Elvis Perkins strokes a harp and sings original songs all connecting back to the theme of home. Later a marching band comes onstage, enlivening the set with loud raucous music that inspires a congo line that includes audience members.
Once the house is built it is populated by the seven-member cast, all of whom play inhabitants living within the home at different times. In a particularly amusing scene many of them use the bathroom at once, all blind to the others. Just as your childhood home is forever burned into your memory, the rooms also belong to the other inhabitants who came before and after you. While the characters do talk to each other, most of their dialogue is not discernible. We do not know who these characters are, what their lives are like beyond a few mundane details, or what their stories are, but we watch them living out their daily lives all within the same home.
The small cast is later augmented by members of the audience who are invited onstage to fulfill needed roles. As most of the talking is drowned out by music, the actors give directions so the audience members can take on different roles. Some were so good, and were onstage for so long, that it was hard to believe they were simply plucked by chance from their seats.
During the final party scene a cast member passes out plastic cups and (what seems to be) champagne to those in the front row, making them seem like additional attendees at a party. This party soon transforms into different milestones of life—a birth, a funeral, and a graduation. All of these critical moments are quietly watched by the house all these people call home.
(HOME played at BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, through December 10, 2017. The running time was 1 hour and 35 minutes. Tickets were $30 - $55. For more information visit bam.org.)
HOME is by Geoff Sobelle. Directed by Lee Sunday Evans. Choreography by David Neumann. Set Design by Steven Dufala. Lighting Design by Christopher Kuhl. Sound Design by Brandon Wolcott. Original Music by Elvis Perkins. Stage Manager is Lisa McGinn.
The cast is Geoff Sobelle, Josh Crouch, Sophie Bortolussi, Jennifer Kidwell, Elvis Perkins, Justin Rose, and Ching Valdes-Aran.