HOME is the bastard child of Buster Keaton, Shin Lim and Corey Worthington. A two storey residence is magic-ed onto stage. The residents of it, over its lifetime, cling to it and make it home and they also fill it with people they don’t know in a pretty loose invite.
The residents and guests will build stories, paper their stories with emotion and, what I was unprepared for, sometimes simply reflect. It is the meditative quality of HOME that I enjoyed most. The beauty, craft and humour of the work are rich and everpresent but the moments of muse pulled us forward in our seats in a communal reach for how we grasp our small place in a big world.
It’s a long show and though my friends found some scenes overextended I didn’t. For me it was a 110 busy minutes straight through. It begins simply and effectively though, in the rhythm of a staple gun on a three leafed standalone wall frame. The sole performer who is erecting this strutted shape is aware of the audience and has a cheeky attitude to his own cleverness as his plastic coverings expose and obfuscate the magical creation that rises. The house is swiftly built and populated, with enough time to engage with the characters and their relationships. The pace of which is very well modulated by Director Lee Sunday.
Despair that strikes you halfway up the stairs, a mystery of a woman in black elide with the frenetic imprinting of the home and the raucous expression of a party in last third of the piece. A party that members of the audience are invited to. It’s joyous and very clever. The previously silent cast create the plethora of little stories with indications and discrete comments until the stage is filled with narrative, laughter and tears. Last night’s seconded star even managed to get a bit flirty!
The actors are not just brilliant at the finely nuanced movement but their acting brings the home to life. The range of emotions on display is as complex as one would expect and the cast have a firm understanding of where some broadness is required and where subtlety gets the mood across to last night’s full house.
Choreographed for emotion in places and visual spectacle in others, the arresting movement is technically expert with a scamper down stairs or five unaware in a bathroom or the opening of doors, all in concert with the live music. The music has a folky, Latin feel from tango and travelling to full mariachi to move you in your seat. And a Nawlin’s surprise. Plus a tapoketa of wishing, Mitty style along with the suburban distance of dogs to provide aspiration and firmly ground the building in place.
There is also an extended song about Nature vs humanity’s need for stability of place that, accompanied by some lovely guitar work from Elvis Perkins, who is also HOME’s composer, really extends the themes of the production. Creator Geoff Sobelle was inspired by the strata of kitchen flooring he found in his house and the production certainly layers the human experience. The lighting is evocative and when it sometimes fades down to practical fixtures the imagery is delicious. As is my favourite sequence, a dawn break of warm light and cricket audio.
HOME brings to the stage a nice place to be with an intimacy unanticipated, given its scale. It’s great fun in places, thoughtful in others with an endearing commonness of desire for safety from the elements.
HOME continues as part of the Sydney Festival until Jan 18.