Take a Journey with Home - Star-Telegram Review
Jubilee Theatre takes us on a journey with 'Home'
By Punch Shaw Special to the Star-Telegram
FORT WORTH -- Can you go home again?
That is the somewhat weighty (and oft-posed) question that Jubilee Theatre has decided to ask with Home, the first production of the downtown theater's 30th anniversary season.
This three-actor show focuses on the life of Cephus Miles (Marcus Mauldin), a dirt-poor North Carolina farmer, whose trek through life takes him from the fields to the big city -- with a stop in the jailhouse in between -- from the 1950s until the late 1970s.
The structure of this gripping piece is unusual. It begins in an abstract, almost experimental style that emphasizes the poetic leanings of Samm-Art Williams' script. Mauldin is supported by two actresses (Ginneh Thomas as Woman One and Evette Perry Buchanan as Woman Two) who play a number of men and women who pass through Miles' life. In the opening moments, the lines of the three players weave together like strains of music while giving us teasing hints of what is to come.
Very quickly, however, the show settles into a series of folksy, homespun stories that might be told by someone rocking in a chair on a porch, which is exactly what Miles frequently does, and short vignettes revealing episodes in his life.
Mauldin draws us into the heart of the piece, while Thomas and Buchanan provide bright accents, popping off like fireworks.
The direction by Sharon Benge, a Texas Woman's University theater professor , is extremely sensitive to the rhythms and flow of Williams' text. She treats his script as if it were a musical score, and the results are glorious.
This is very pure theater -- the sort of show where the language matters more than the visual elements. For many patrons, that will be its most engaging feature. But some might not warm to this nuance or the show's minimalist tendencies.
Also, much of this show seems to be an allegory for all black Americans during the period represented. This leads to cliched moments. (Miles has problems with unemployment, alcohol and drugs when he goes to the city -- stop me if you have heard this one before.) And, without revealing too much, the show seems to desert the notion of having a larger plan in mind with an ending that seems a bit forced.
On the whole, however, this carefully honed production features outstanding acting and a commanding script, making it a fine way for this theater to begin its fourth decade.