HOMAGE by James Harkness, directed by David Oiye, with Anne Anglin, Tom Barnett, Bob Nasmith and Andy Velasquez. Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs to October 20, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $18-$25, Tuesday and Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Jim, the central figure in James Harkness's moving Homage, left his farm home for the big city with lofty dreams, but later returns unhappily to his parents' house, which for him is filled with ghostly nightmares.Though the early scenes move far too slowly in director David Oiye's production, there's a strong emotional payoff by the end, as the gay Jim (Tom Barnett) needles and flirts with childhood friend Nick (Andy Velasquez) and tries to come to terms with parents (Anne Anglin and Bob Nasmith) he thinks didn't care about him.
Presented in a pair of time periods that eventually overlap for Jim, Homage draws its strength from the relationship between a mother on the edge of a breakdown and a son who misreads the love she offers him.
Anglin believably carries off the move from realistic farmer's wife to mysterious prophet of doom as the play progresses.
But it's Barnett who gives the production its finest moments as the increasingly numbed, drugged Jim -- on smokes, alcohol and pills -- who loses his bitchy campiness as he realizes that the bitterness and loneliness he embraced needn't have ruled his life. It's a gorgeous performance that fully embodies the strength of Harkness's nuanced writing.