Artistic director Caren Hearne was all bubbles and shine as she introduced Studio 3 Theatre for Young Audiences’ production of Lizzie Allen’s Home to a Saturday afternoon crowd at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Studio 3, she announced, is the only theater in this country producing the English playwright’s work.
That should change soon. Though the crowd was small, it was completely engaged. This is the objective of children’s theatre, and I can’t see why other audiences would respond any differently.
Home is not so much a play with a fantasy element as it is a play about the creation of fantasy. When you are a child, what other way can you shape your world? So humor your kids when they respond well–and at times break the rules of good (adult) theatrical decorum—to a play about two adults acting childishly, often without reason.
The play stars Merieke Georgiadis, Jason Krage, and a dollhouse. As Florrie and Todd, respectively, the pair wanders the world ceaselessly, feeling there is no place they “belong.” A pile of props sits onstage; mostly stuff you’ll find in a warehouse. Cardboard boxes and plastic in the hands of two grown children become a bevy of wonderful things if your imagination allows it. They stack boxes, till dirt, and pretend it is home.
Then Florrie notices a wrapped package with a card that reads: “To: Todd and Florrie. From: The Universe.” Inside is a dollhouse, too small for humans to live in, but inhabited by a lonely doll named Mr. Popple. Lonely and afraid of the “giants” who hang out outside his house, Mr. Popple sits alone at his piano, playing sad waltzes.
Ever cheerful, ever optimistic, Todd and Florrie– touched by the sadness of a stranger—create “friends” to come live in the dollhouse. They enlist the help of their audience, already absorbed by the performance. Afterwards, they spend a year watching, tending the house as this new family grows together within. In the process, they come to learn what it means to be truly “home.”
I recommend this play not only because of the winning performances of Georgiadis and Krage, and not just because of excellent lighting work from Joseph Wallen, or the outstanding props and dollhouse from Kevin Laughton and Laura Simpson, but also its intriguing message: though we can’t always bend it to our will, the world around us will ultimately be what we imagine it to be. It is best we get it right.
by Lizzie Allen
Directed by Caren Hearne
Produced by Studio 3 Theatre
Reviewed by Steve Hallex
Running time: 2 hours with 1 intermission