Home Alonely

Wed 7th – Sun 18th December 2011

reviews

Cleo Hetherington

at 09:26 on 8th Dec 2011

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The Wardrobe Theatre’s Christmas production, Home Alonely, describes itself as a ‘darker, adult retelling’ of Home Alone, exploring the ‘harrowing stuff’ behind the well-known Christmas film. And that is just what we are presented with - eventually. But, for about the first twenty minutes of the play all that seemed to be happening was a scrambled, three-man rehash of the film, complete with Kevin (Andrew Kelly) donning hats and silly voices, and some immature jokes about farting on pillows. The play is conceptually very good; Kevin, twenty-two years on, is alone at Christmas again, and invites some imaginary guests to watch him perform and retell the story of what happened when he was left alone as an eight-year-old boy. The problem is that the script is so slow building that it takes some time before the meaning behind this concept is revealed. This left me wondering why a fully grown man was prancing around putting on a child’s voice and performing to imaginary friends.

But as the play goes on it finally becomes clear why Kevin is retelling his story, as we are given a harrowing account of what really happened that night. Kevin’s paranoia builds, and the scenes in which he watches a violent movie are a terrifying foreshadowing of the violent climax. Throughout the play there are hints about its ending, and we start to realise that Kevin has been scarred by a killing which he skirts around until the very end. This, then, is the explanation for the reenactment: Kevin is a thirty-year-old man, living alone in his parents’ house, stuck with a guilty conscience and forced to constantly relive the terrible experience of being home alone. Andrew Kelly handles the role well, and while his impression of childishness was at first slightly irritating, it captured the fact that the adult Kevin is trapped in his own past.

The three actors made fantastic use of the limited space, and the complicated prop work was almost always done perfectly. Home Alonely is clearly a play that is technically difficult to perform, with rapid sound changes, inventive light work, and character doubling. Mum (Jesse Meadows) and Dad (Alice Lamb) also play Marv and Harry, and while the latter two roles are the funniest, the portrayal of Kevin’s parents as harried and desperate is at times extremely moving. Harry and Marv, the ‘thieves’, are revealed in fact to be nothing but house cleaners, albeit ones who enjoy wearing ladies’ clothes and using the Agas of the posh houses they clean. One criticism would be that, for me, it wasn’t clear enough that they were cleaners rather than thieves, and it may have been beneficial and less confusing had this been made more obvious earlier on. It was difficult to tell that they weren’t merely masquerading as cleaners, but that they actually were a pair of simple and kind-hearted men. But this twist is a clever one, and it makes the fact that they are framed for the inadvertent crime Kevin commits all the more tragic. By the end, the chaotic and slapstick comedy fizzles out, as we are shown Kevin’s desperate loneliness and the implications of his actions.

The Wardrobe Theatre has created and pulled off a challenging and interesting play, and although on the first night there were teething problems, the slow build leads to a shocking and revealing climax.

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