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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Home

Photo/Richard Termine

I suspect part of the reason I see so much theater is that I dislike being at home; both of these things end up working against the all-too-ordinary production of Home being done by the Negro Ensemble Company as part of Signature's 2009-2010 season. I don't like Samm-Art Williams's artificial narrative anymore than I liked Albee's interrogatory facade in Occupant: both focus more on the telling of history than on his story. In 1979, that may have been a crucial factor: the end of providing an outlet for all-too-often glossed over story justifies the means. But this revival substitutes chaos for urgency, turning January LaVoy and Tracey Bonner into whirling dervishes that spin their 25 characters around a sedentary Cephus Miles (Kevin T. Carroll). In the quietest moments, those that tell the love story of Miles and Pattie Mae Wells (LaVoy), the play is dizzying. However, these moments are undermined by those loud ones that follow, ones where Miles is suddenly a slick factory worker pretending that he's from Philidelphia instead of North Carolina, or where Miles shouts at a God who he believes to be vacationing in Florida. There's so much going on that this sort of broad emoting is a necessary shortcut, but it's also a mistake. Just because Miles gets back to where he started doesn't make Home any less empty.

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