STAGE: Home @ Signature Theatre in NYC

There’s no place like home for the holidays but displaced North Carolinians can get a little taste on 42nd Street as the Samm-Art Williams play, Home, is currently in production at the Signature Theatre Company in NYC until January 11, 2009.

Time Out NY says: Fairy tales aren’t usually aimed at grown-ups, but Home is. The second offering of Signature Theatre Company’s season devoted to the works of the Negro Ensemble Company, Samm-Art Williams’s 1979 Tony-nominated play about the trials and tribulations of a black everyman has its stale points—his wide-eyed awe at discovering his small North Carolina hometown has become integrated seems a bit quaint. But its optimistic where-the-heart-is message is just as moving as it must have been three decades ago.

In evocatively poetic dialogue, Cephus (Carroll) shares his life story. All this God-fearing farmer (who does like to gamble) wants to do is work the land and marry his sweetheart, Patti Mae (LaVoy). But once his uncle and grandpa die, his girlfriend leaves him for college and another man, and he’s thrown in jail for refusing to fight in Vietnam, Cephus starts to wonder if God is “on vacation in Miami.” Yet he never completely turns his back on his Maker, and his faith is ultimately rewarded.

If that description sparks cliché-induced eye rolls, be assured that as it unfolds, Home is funny, poignant and, yes, uplifting. Carroll is totally engaging as the plucky protagonist, and he’s matched by LaVoy and Bonner, who take on multiple roles with gusto. In these gloomy times, it’s refreshing to see a show that insists that no matter how bad things get, there’s always a chance of a happy ending.

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