by Clinton Campbell

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 29, 2017

A scene from "Home."
A scene from "Home."  

"...the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the

mirror up to nature..." - William Shakespeare, "Hamlet" Act 3, Scene 2.

It is rare that you find a play that so fully fulfills Shakespeare's famous advice to the players -- but one such play is Geoff Sobelle's magical "Home" currently playing at ArtsEmerson.

From an empty stage an entire home is built and comes to life. We then witness the ensemble of performers (Geoff Sobelle, Sophie Bortolussi, Jennifer Kidwell, Justin Rose, Ching Valdez and Josh Crouch) each go about their own individual lives within this structure that has appeared from nothing.

And while we are watching all these lives happening simultaneously, it becomes clear we are also observing the history of the house -- and in doing so, the house becomes its own character, as well as a home.

There are few lines. The show relies almost entirely on movement and illusions. Yet, it is completely engrossing and raises feelings of nostalgia even though the people are strangers and the events have never happened. By the end of the show it is impossible to not meditate on your own childhood home and what it meant to you.

A scene from "Home."
A scene from "Home."  

The production is impeccably crafted from start to finish. The combination of Steven Dufala's Swiss Army knife of a set and Steve Cuiffo's illusions create jaw dropping moments more than once. And then Brandon Wolcott's sound design and Christopher Kuhl's lighting create an atmosphere that is inviting and cozy. The transition from night to dawn is probably the most successful and moving executions of that moment in time that I have seen.

The only misstep is the music of Elvis Perkins. Due to a combination of too much reverb and lazy diction, his songs are almost entirely unintelligible. They add nothing to the arc of the show except to presumably give the performers a couple of well-deserved breaks.

"Home" is a meditation both on the spaces we consider home, but also on life as a whole. Through the evening, we witness the full gamut of life experiences -- laughter, tears, anger, despair, loneliness, love...the list goes on. It is a celebration of life and moments we both share with each other as well as those we experience alone in our rooms.

"Home" most certainly holds the mirror up to nature, and the reflection is a beautiful tapestry.

"Home" continues through October 1 at the Emerson Paramount Center Robert J. Orchard Stage, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA. For more information, visit the ArtsEmerson website.