Our first encounter with The London Horror Festival at Etcetera Theatre in Camden and it was a very good one at that. Theatrum Veritatus present American Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson’s dark little play – ‘Home Free’. The Theatrum Veritatus focus on bringing together North American and British theatrical traditions and in doing so they have unearthed a real gem for us here in one of Lanford Wilson’s earliest plays first produced in 1964
With a suffocating closeness two siblings try to live out their existence in a small but cluttered playroom. The boy, Lawrence, is suffering from agoraphobia, while his sister, Joanna who is pregnant with his child, seems to be suffering from physical pain. Both characters converse with two imaginary characters, Claypone and Edna, two younger children whom the siblings parent. Trying to exist with any semblance of normalcy is clearly impossible as they face the prospect of being evicted partly because of the imminent arrival of their new baby.
We couldn’t help thinking of Philip Ridley’s play ‘The Pitchfork Disney’ whilst our co-reviewer thought of the novel ‘Flowers in the Attic’ by V.C. Andrews, both tales about messed up siblings. Ridley’s play was written just under 25 years ago, whilst Andrews’ was written over 35 years ago. It shows that Wilson was dealing with such issues, incest and agoraphobia, much earlier than most. Both characters in Home Free are extreme realisations of people suffering from mental health problems and downright dysfunctionalism. It is not impossible to imagine people developing such symptoms after a traumatic childhood.
The director, Courtney Larkin, has clearly worked extremely well with the two actors to create a sense of constant tension and general unease whilst conveying a terrible poignancy. With performance so good, it is clear that a lot of work had been down between director and actors on the backstories of their characters. Rob Peacock and Lindsey Huebner play the brother and sister couple, doing exceptionally well to create such believable characters out of two very mad siblings. The way they engaged with the two imaginary characters was so effective it got to the point where we thought we were beginning to see Claypone and Edna.
A great realisation of an old forgotten work. Theatrum Veritatus have an excellent remit of bringing us forgotten North American works and we look forward to seeing their next offering. Congratulations to director Courtney Larkin, actors Rob and Lindsey and everyone else involved in ‘Home Free’, for bringing us this spooky piece.
Dramatic Highlight of the Piece – Lawrence’s opening monologue, giving us an immediate insight into his madness and dysfunctionalism.