Irish Rep presents the New York premiere of Brian Friel's historical drama. In the hot Donegal August of 1878, the fruits of Colonialism and the ambiguities of loyalty are tested within the background of impossible love. More…
Christopher Gore, the liberal minded Anglo-Irish landlord and his son, David, reside at The Lodge with their “chatelaine” Margaret, with whom they are both in love. Christopher’s cousin, Dr. Richard Gore, arrives with the intention of pursuing a Darwin-inspired scientific theory: by measuring the craniums of the indigenous Irish, he hopes to crack the genetic code of the indigenes, demonstrating their inferior place in the natural order. Set in the era of the rumblings of violence and uncertainty at the dawn of The Home Rule movement, Friel explores the aftermath of Dr. Gore’s experiment as deep animosity is dangerously ignited among the suspicious villagers of Ballybeg.
“Directed exquisitely by Charlotte Moore...is a must see for all those who love theatre and the importance of language crafted by a master...How timely a play this is about ethnic categorization and social stereotyping in our own climate of deportation and hate...Mr. Friel has such a wonderful gift for letting a story unravel slowly through conversation and character. He wants us to understand what home means...The cast is outstanding.” Full Review
“The beautiful production is haunting; a dream that’s about to be a nightmare. Literally. I lost sleep...Moore helms a talented cast with nuance and grace...It would be a mistake to assume that the action is on the surface. There’s a lot churning underneath, and not just feelings...The play is a masterpiece, and Moore does it proud." Full Review
"A staging of hushed grace and delicacy, one that I wish Friel had lived to see...A history play of sorts, though its drama is wholly personal...Unabashedly Chekhovian, but it also contains a sharp nudge of Shavian satire...Moore's staging is so unassumingly natural that it feels as though the play is not being acted but is merely happening...To see it is to come away certain that 'The Home Place' is one of Friel’s half-dozen masterpieces." Full Review
“It is possible to enjoy Brian Friel's ‘The Home Place’ without knowing the background to this historical play set in rural Ireland in 1878 as a Chekhovian representation of a world about to come to an end. However, the play will be much more meaningful if one knows the historical events that have led up to this turn of events. Charlotte Moore's handsome and genteel production will be enjoyed most by those who understand the play's undercurrents and implications.” Full Review
"Clashes and near head-bangings carry on in Friel’s two acts, which have the feel of Chekhov on uppers...Friel is one of those playwrights who never goes wrong...What’s deeply moving about Friel’s writing is the balance with which he present all sides of a troubled issue. It’s particularly welcome in director Moore’s production with a flawless ensemble. No one puts a foot, hand or syllable wrong, and each has at least one sterling moment to claim focus along Friel’s sure-handed, clear-eyed way." Full Review
"'Friel’s most subtle, powerful, and complicated work. Irish Rep's rendition of Friel’s play gloriously captures Friel’s subtle power. Not only are the sets, staging, lighting, and artistic elements lustrous, the quiet dark tones and gradual evolution toward the climax become the transports to the profound thematic conclusion...One must pay attention and not miss the clever cues Moore leaves throughout as the conflict ratchets up by degrees then explodes to the climax." Full Review
“A collection of colorful performers under the intelligent command of director Charlotte Moore...’The Home Place’ may not be one of playwright Friel’s greatest plays, but it succeeds in delineating part of an era with its controversies, as well as presenting flesh and blood characters attempting to sort out their lives. And director Moore exhibits keen understanding of the play and an ability to effectively communicate its essence." Full Review
"A modest and almost-excellent adaptation of Friel’s 'The Home Place'...The play is a distillation of a changing Ireland, where the locals are not just going to look winsome and pay their rent...When emotions run high, the shouty and overly declarative acting can overwhelm the small stage. But, affecting and stirring, this adaptation carries the personal and political ghosts of times past resonantly in its sails." Full Review
“Brian Friel’s play, ‘The Home Place’, looks at what constitutes home—to the heart...Windsor-Cunningham presents a touching, nuanced portrayal of Christopher Gore...Perfect comic timing must be credited to the brilliant director, Charlotte Moore...Friel has been called 'the Irish Chekhov' and this play demonstrates how appropriate the appellation is. The Irish Rep is so warm and welcoming, theatergoers may well find it their own ‘Home Place.’” Full Review
“.A study of contrasts...’The Home Place’ is beautifully directed by Charlotte Moore, the Irish Rep’s Artistic Director. She has a fine cast to work with...Another fascinating play by one of Ireland’s best playwrights.” Full Review
“Satisfying direction by Charlotte Moore...This play feels like an Irish ‘Cherry Orchard’...The most surprising U-turn in the play is Christopher Gore's. Played brilliantly by John-Windsor Cunningham...Playwright Friel is able to suggest how and why the world of the lower classes strong and vibrant. He does not preach. Rather he uses his good fortune to find music as the symbol of peasant vitality.” Full Review
"Like all of Friel’s plays, it takes place in the fictional Irish town of Ballybeg in County Donegal....While not top-drawer Friel, ‘The Home Place’ is nonetheless an enjoyable drama, subtly structured, and Irish Rep Artistic Director Charlotte Moore’s direction is superb. Her cast is excellent. It is difficult for me to pick out any faves, but if I had to I would put my finger on John Windsor Cunningham as Christopher and Rachel Pickup as Margaret." Full Review
"The Chekhovian influence on Friel's work is here rather heavy-handed...And the first act's introduction of the characters who are the agents as well as victims of unstoppable change moves at a rather talk-heavy, meandering pace. However, Moore has assembled a fine cast to make all the characters creditable and aptly sympathetic or despicable...Gore is not only the play's key character but the star performance. That's not to say that the performances overall aren't excellent." Full Review
"Moore, the Irish Rep’s Artistic Director, has longed for the right moment to bring this final work of Friel’s to New York. She’s directed it herself in a manner that would have pleased him...The play is literate, and offers many choice confrontations which give opportunity to actors of quality to engage themselves and us...Charlotte Moore has assembled a first-rate ensemble to breathe life into this glimpse of a divisive time in Ireland’s history. Sadly, it seems scarily relevant.” Full Review
"There are some commendable performances, particularly from the older members of the cast who add substance to the perception of a conceited class. At times, Moore's directorial grasp slips. What should be the play’s dramatic pinnacle, collapses under chaos...'The Home Place' is nevertheless an important play that digs deep into the blight of the soul that scurries within oppressive power." Full Review
"There's a lot going on in 'The Home Place,' but it ultimately feels like a finger exercise from the autumn of a great playwright's career; despite the plot's explosive implications, it is marked by a hushed, hesitant quality that prevents us from fully taking in his characters' longings and anxieties...The oddly tentative atmosphere is exacerbated by Moore's rather perfunctory staging, despite several strong performances." Full Review
“Friel's pseudo-Chekhovian, two-act play…meanders from theme to theme, sometimes inserting symbols, like a falcon that threatens the household's chickens; unfortunately, it never truly coheres as an integrated whole. We hear a lot of interestingly informative dialogue…but must wait until well into Act Two before anything truly dramatic bursts out…The tall and slender…Rachel Pickup, as Margaret, offers the most convincing performance, bringing warmth, intelligence, and strength to the role.” Full Review
"Despite its shortcomings, Friel's writing still shimmers with its customary lyricism...'The Home Place' has a difficult time allowing its themes of exile, identity, language and oppression to be explored to their fullest. The main reason for this is the miscasting of Windsor-Cunningham in the pivotal role of Christopher Gore. Lacking both the requisite authority and stage presence, Windsor-Cunningham projects an insecurity at odds with the demands of his character." Full Review
"The cast is well suited to the piece with Mr. Randolph perfectly devilish. Charlotte Moore does a nice job of directing, but this play plods along. Thankfully the scenery by James Noone was attractive to look at." Full Review
"Moore's production looks beautiful, but is markedly untidy when it comes to finding a dramatic arc for her actors. As a result, most of the central performances are lost in the loquacious terrain of Friel's script, though Pickup's headstrong portrayal of Margaret stands above the fray...Only in fits and starts does the play find the right focus, spending simultaneously too much and too little time on its dueling storylines, never hitting the right balance of either." Full Review
"The plot is slight, politics subtle. Suggested threat implied by the appearance of Con and John comes from left field, landing awkward and ill considered..Still, the piece would’ve been more credible had its actors given their characters adequate thought. Almost none of them seem to know who they are or what they actually feel making performance all surface. Almost none of them seem to know who they are or what they actually feel...A better play than its production." Full Review
"Sometimes a beautiful woman’s yearning gaze isn’t sufficient to hold a piece of theater together that has too many moving parts...Despite Charlotte Moore’s elegant direction, that gaze, and the moments it underscores, is hampered by a plot burdened with too many notes...Pickup is luminous and lovely as Margaret...Yet the narrative, filled with extraneousness, ultimately weakens even Pickup’s excellent work." Full Review
"All the comments I overhead seemed to be about the set...It was hard to think of anything as complimentary to say about the rest of the production...This rendering seems unfocused...Too few of those actors are up to the task of walking the fine line between grit and whimsy that defines so much of Friel's work...Under Moore's shaky direction, several of the male actors make eccentric choices that undercut not only their characters but the narrative of the play." Full Review
See it if Woman struggles to preserve a fragile peace among those she loves, who are in turn threatened by a fragile political situation.
Don't see it if You are not interested in intricate, tense character interactions combining the personal and political.
See it if You want to see work that has integrity, and be drawn into 19th century Ireland in a relatable way
Don't see it if You don’t like period pieces or are lazy about/can’t work out dialects
See it if You want a modern take on Irish history. You want that history seen from more than 1 POV. You want an intriguing story that holds attention
Don't see it if You prefer a play writen on the time period depicted on stage. You don't like a mix of drama & comedy. You want a light night out.
See it if you enjoy Friel and a story that, while serious, is still charming and romantic and leaves you feeling that you've just visited with friends
Don't see it if heavy Irish accents disconcert you or if you are not interested in Irish plays.
See it if Brian Friel is music to your ears, (his language is so poetic and extremely well performed here); the script is fascinating and unusual
Don't see it if you're not interested in 19th c. Anglo/Irish relationships, find eugenics a dated concept, want to miss a rare op to see Friel's final work.
See it if you want to see an outstanding cast in a wonderful Brian Friel play that has not been done in New York before, on a beautiful jewel of a set
Don't see it if you don't like plays about Ireland and its problems.
See it if you think any production of a Friel play (even a lesser one like this one) is a cause for celebration, esp. when done by the Irish Rep.
Don't see it if you don't know at least a little about Irish history, or object to a bit of heavy-handed symbolism at the very end of the play.
See it if you love Brian Friel, Charlotte Moore, a great set and some great acting.... And can quickly adjust to the various dialects.
Don't see it if Still not enough"loos". 2nd row of seats not raked. First 4 or 5 rows seats not staggered.
See it if you want to learn about the peasant uprise against English landowner in the 1870's Ireland told through the eyes of 1 such landowner.
Don't see it if you don't like historical Irish plays or must see an action pact play
See it if Another resonant Friel examination of the abuse of the Irish by their English overlords. I think "Translations" is the better on this topic.
Don't see it if A sweet love story is folded in. Beautifully staged. Phil Gillen, the replacement Tommy Boyle, practically steals the show in a nifty cameo.
See it if you enjoy Irish drama, especially by Brian Friel. This production is so well done by Irish Rep—even if it is second- tier Friel.
Don't see it if you do not like Chekovian drama. Or if you don't like Irish drama.
See it if you're a fan of Brian Friel-- this is the last play he wrote; you like traditional dramas; you're interested in Irish theatre or history.
Don't see it if you don't like "talky" dramas; have trouble with Irish and English acccents.
Also This is a long way from Friel's best.
See it if You're a fan of Brian Friel, enjoy Irish plays, interested in class issues in 19th century Ireland, care about rise of populist movement
Don't see it if You don't like slow but steadily building plots, have difficulty with Irish accents, don't quite understand Irish/English land holding laws
See it if You're interested in the history of Ireland, colonialism or race. The Irish are a racial underclass in their own country. Sound familiar?
Don't see it if You don't want to be challenged, you won't listen carefully to different accents, you expect something light-hearted.
See it if you're a fan of Brian Friel and have an interest in Irish history. Only the abrupt ending was troublesome for me.
Don't see it if you don't like historical dramas -- with some singing thrown in.
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