The Home Place: Review

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This play both requires and rewards careful, thoughtful viewing.

As the curtain of The Home Place goes up, the audience is immediately drawn into the courtyard of the big Victorian house that is home to Christopher Gore and his son David. A peat gravel path leads from a warm living room to a cool lawn bordered by shrubbery and buckthorns, and a flower-filled garden. Over the course of the evening, the Gores, their visiting cousin Richard, their servants Sally and Margaret and visiting neighbors reveal a complex array of emotions and concerns from unrequited love to political awareness to family love and disappointment.

The Home Place runs through November 25 at the Guthrie. The Guthrie will offer open captioning of The Home Place on November 8 at 7:30 pm. Open captioning can be seen by anyone via a 4-foot wide screen placed adjacent to the stage displaying text simultaneously to live speech.
For tickets: www.guthrietheater.org, or 612-377-2224.

The Home Place is a serious, superbly performed play that explores the multiple layers of the impact of social change in Ireland in 1878. The good and the bad of a tenuous landlord/tenant relationship are uncovered, as well as the joys and sadness of a father and daughter. Racial stereotyping is there, too, in the craniometry espoused by cousin Richard, as he measures the heads of the Irish tenants.

The Home Place is also about the concept of home. Dr. Richard Gore suggests the superiority of one home over another. Christopher sadly reflects on the memory of a previous home and fears for the loss of his present one. Margaret ponders where she fits in, and the audience is left to consider whether she can go home again.

Thanks to a three-decade-long friendship between director Joe Dowling and Tony award-winning playwright Brian Friel, The Home Place makes its U. S. premiere at the Guthrie Theatre. Dowling has directed previous Friel plays in Ireland, the playwright’s home, where he is a major public figure, and in the United States.

Jennifer Holder is a free-lance writer in the Twin Cities.