Most anyone who has ever left his home has longed to be back in it. There exists an unmistakably powerful pull to the familiarity that has been burned into our brains by the repetition of living in a place. Even for those who didn’t enjoy their homes, a pull exists, however slight it might be.
A home is more than simply a place to hang your hat. Most importantly, there can be great joys and lasting peace found in the concept of home, joys and peace no one should be ashamed of.
Cephus Miles (Robert Lee Hardy) spends a large portion of his life learning this very lesson in Samm-Art Williams’ Tony-nominated play Home now at Rep Stage.
We meet Cephus as a teenager on a farm in North Carolina, a hard worker caught between a religious girlfriend (and a promise that he can never bed her without converting himself) and a personal joy found in making and drinking bootleg liquor. Though he doesn’t quit the bottle, his love (and lust) gets the better of him.
A profound confusion settles over him after he loses his girlfriend and begins a life-long search for the peace and happiness he found in her arms. The “big city” calls his name with a demon’s tongue, filled with promises of “blues and jazz in the middle of the night.” Meanwhile, the Vietnam War tests his newfound faith in the sixth commandment.
Felicia Curry and Fatima Quander play too many roles to be counted, a testament to their flexibility and adaptability as actors. Though Curry spends some time as Cephus’ heartbreaker Pattie Mae Wells, for the most part she and Quander switch roles, accents, dialects and costumes quickly, playing children to preachers to addicts to dealers.
These two women fill the skin of each new character as comfortably as if it were their own.
Closes March 17, 2013
Rep Stage – Horowitz Center
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway
1 hour, 50 minutes without intermission
Tickets: $34 – $40
Thursdays thru Sundays
The set deserves commendation for allowing so many quick costume changes without distracting the black box audience. Merely a stage with a trap door, the players pantomimed everything (from opening doors to getting licked by/petting dogs). Cattycorner, off the main stage, were two small risers, where Curry and Quander could quickly change costumes before diving back into the action.
The play’s pacing might take a few scenes to find its legs, but it, like so many things in the American South, is beautiful if you have a little patience. Cephus is most at home sitting in his rocking chair on the porch in Cross Roads, North Carolina, telling stories of his youth and of getting drunk at the Saturday fish-fry (whether he’s telling them at 25 years old or 45 years old). Those moments are ephemeral but stretch on for hot, beautiful days.
The play becomes illuminating if you take a moment to understand why.
Home by Samm-Art Williams . Directed by Duane Boutte . Costume Design by Celestine Ranney-Howes . Sound Design by Neil McFadden . Scenic Design by James Fouchard . Produced by Rep Stage . Reviewed by Travis M. Andrews .