Home Summary (David Storey)

David Storey


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The idea for Home, first produced at the Royal Court Theatre, occurred to Storey when he was struck by the concluding image of The Contractor—a metalwork table on an otherwise bare stage. Home opens upon a bare metal table, with two occupied metal chairs, outdoors at a mental institution. That there are only two chairs poses problems of seating when two women join the two men.

The men are middle class. Harry, a heating engineer, and Jack, a distributor of foodstuffs in a wholesale store, exhibit sensitivity and some gentility as they recall fragmented bits of their pasts. Marjorie and Kathleen, on the other hand, are anything but likely companions for the two men. They are concerned with physical matters, particularly their ailments, and they indulge in the kind of gossip and quibbling that have characterized their lives. They bicker especially about chairs, which are continually being carried on and off the stage. For all four, the present is about making things as comfortable for one another as possible.

Within this framework, Storey draws the interior landscapes of his characters in the tradition of the so-called plotless play. Characters freely exchange bits about their lives and their times in attempts to make sense of things. Christmas, for example, is not the season of good cheer it is supposed to be because “the moment money intrudes . . . all feeling goes straight out the window.” The men discreetly recall their sexual inclinations, the camaraderie of wartime, and the large families of the past. The diminishing of England itself is suggested in Jack’s fragmented references to “this little island.” Harry replies, “Shan’t see its like,” and “The sun has set.” In this personal and historical elegy something is gained: The human bond formed among the four characters has allowed them to give voice to a moving experience of commonality.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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