Castle Theatre Company’s Home, by Nadia Fall, is an experimental modern piece about the lives of homeless young people living in a hostel in East London. The concept behind the play, are interviews which the playwright has conducted in this hostel, making it, as Director, Leying Lee, says all about ‘real life people’ and ‘their daily goings on’.
Although some of the student audience may feel very distant from the realities of homeless existence, Philippa Clare, Assistant Director and also playing the character of Portugal, argues that what makes the play relevant are ‘the feelings and emotions’ of the characters. She says that despite an initial culture shock, ‘very quickly you begin to connect with each character’. While discovering more about their lives, Clare says, ‘you can see yourself in something that they (the characters) feel’.
Rachelle Ojomo, whose character, Jade communicates ‘entirely through the medium of beatboxing, because she can’t express herself through words’, really embodies the diverse way in which the stories of the young people are told. Other music, non-specific to a particular character, which appears throughout the show includes contemporary recognizable pop hits, which the audience can immediately recognize and connect with. However the music also works on a deeper emotional level, often revealing underlying character traits that may be suppressed in dialogue.
This emotional connection, which is engendered between audience and cast, is not necessarily one of sympathy. Lee, claims that the play brings a range of tone, from monologues ‘which are genuinely hilarious’, to ones where ‘you find yourself not liking the character’. The monologues, Thomas Roberts points out are presented in the style of ‘naturalism, into which you are immediately drawn in’, because this means that ‘there is no barrier between you and the audience’, and this is key to maintaining unwavering interest in the play.
Owen Sparkes, adds that this means the monologues are ‘not pretentious, like an aside from a Shakespeare play’. Alex Colville, playing the Security Guard, says that furthermore, during the play the audience ‘in effect, takes the role of the interviewer’, as monologue answers to unheard questions are directed straight at the audience.
The Assembly Rooms create what Lee terms, the effect of ‘intimacy and distance’ simultaneously. The ability to draw in the audience into these people’s lives is not lessened by the size of the theatre itself.
When watching a scene at the Breakfast Club, a time when the audience can observe the characters interacting with each other in a large group, the characters alternatingly broke out into monologues and song explaining what ‘home’ means to them, until all their voices unite in harmony. The minimalism of the stage, complemented by the monochrome tones of the props, will guarantee that the focus of the audience’s attention is entirely on the actors.
Sarah Slimani, playing the character of Bullet, remarks that individual characters in the production are ‘not all necessarily meant to be memorable’. Instead the play is about capturing the essence of a community and authentically presenting this on stage.
Of the many reasons to see the play, from the perspective of the cast, Slimani adds that one of the key things which makes this production unique, is that it has ‘the most ethnically diverse cast I’ve ever seen’. To distil the attraction of the show to an aphoristic phrase, Lee says that what Home has to offer is its ability to satisfy the ‘irresistible draw to human stories’.
Home will be performed from Thursday the 25th of February until Saturday the 27th of February. Book your tickets here.
Photograph: Tom Mack