Caught “The Home Place” this week at the Guthrie, the Joe Dowling-directed premiere from Ireland’s most celebrated contemporary playwright. It was hard to see why in the first few minutes, when the play got off to such a slow start I wondered if this was going to be a costume drama without the drama or a drawing room play without the wit. In fact, the tension comes soon enough, and nothing you might have expected from the pre-publicity. It pushes plenty of buttons, if you’ve ever thought ill of colonialism, and gets nicely complicated, deeply gray. In fact, where the beginning was stilted, the rest is almost unrelenting, and you long for comic relief; when you don’t get it, you may do, as some of the patrons did, and grasp onto anything–the line “I need a drink” comes up frequently and almost always gets a laugh from someone feeling the same.
By the way, Terry Jones of Monty Python fame is in town this weekend–to give a lecture on Medieval life at Augsburg College tonight, of all things (not surprising to anyone who’s seen Python’s work) and no doubt will pal around with the British folks in the Home Place cast.