HOMEWARD BOUND by Elliot Hayes (Alumnae). Runs to February 4. See Continuing listings for details. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Elliott Hayes 's Homeward Bound has an elegant facade yet takes excoriating swipes at the liberal middle class. Well-to-do parents Bonnie ( Elva Mai Hoover ) and Glen ( John Illingworth ) invite their offspring, Norris ( Tabitha Keast ) and Nick ( Joe Boyd ), and partners Kevin and Guy ( Zvi Gilbert and Lee Poulin , the latter the gay Nick's lover) over for an unsettling announcement that almost gets lost in the sarcastic Norris's neurotic explosions and Nick's secrecy over Guy's whereabouts.
The script starts sedately but soon becomes darker, examining the uncertainty underlying the surface comfortableness - what Bonnie calls the normalcy - in these people's lives.
There's sharpness in the writing, but director Jane Carnwath 's production at the Alumnae doesn't capture much of the work's humour or discomfitting quality. Things improve in the second act as the action becomes more serious, but it's only Hoover's Bonnie who regularly touches a nerve and gets some intentionally uncomfortable laughs from the material. The other performers force the comedy and fail to give tension to the family problems.
The late Hayes was a sensitive critic of the recognizable group that considers itself well-educated and socially well-intentioned; his criticism is incisive but also sympathetic. Hoover, who has some of the play's best speeches, understands the difficulty of Bonnie's finally giving voice to thoughts that have made her uneasy for years. The character's emotional detachment has been both a prickly burr and a saving factor in her life, and her recognition of that fact is a source of the play's comedy as well as its angst.