BBC Radio 3, 11 January 2009
Listening to David Storey's classic for the first time in a production
first broadcast in 2006, I initially thought that it was a Beckettian-style play. Two middle-aged men, Jack and Harry
(Adrian Scarborough, Michael Maloney) sit on an isolated bench, talking about nothing in particular. It seems that they only
converse to pass the time, with topics ranging from Jack's military career to the weather. Occasional pauses suggest that
the two men are desperately trying to keep talking to divert attention away from the miseries of their existence. In the second
scene the focus of attention shifts to two women, Marjorie and Kath (Lindsey Coulson, Julia McKenzie) who sit in the same
place making conversation about domestic life, husbands, boyfriends and the state of Kath's feet. Nothing much happens: the
focus of attention centres on Storey's ability to reproduce contemporary rhythms of dialogue.
As Home unfolds, however, so the author's basic purpose emerges. The four
main characters all live in an institution, having been considered unfit to live in the outside world. Life has no particular
purpose for any of them: the main highlights of the day are lunch and dinner, where the residents are served so-so food
by a bored staff. Storey explores the psychology of the four inmates as they try to come to terms with the fact that society
no longer has any use for them. If they do not look after themselves, they might end up like Alfred (Harry Myers), another
inmate whose conversation has been reduced to a series of hackneyed phrases repeated over and over again.
Home resembles an absurd drama, as the four protagonists try to make
sense of their hopeless situation by talking to one another. Alfred resembles Lucky in Waiting for Godot in the sense
that his conversation no longer has any particular meaning. The other characters keep talking in a desperate attempt to differentiate
themselves from him. Although somewhat bleak in terms of tone, Home is nonetheless a very funny piece of work, with
the cast dividing themselves into two double-acts (Jack/Harry and Marjorie/Kath) exchanging repartee with one another and
demonstrating just how funny senior citizens can be.