Home, Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick

There's no coming home for these five characters in search of hope, and whose abrupt exchanges, edgy silences and darting non sequiturs contribute to a troubling picture of desperate isolation. In Oxford Stage Company's revival of David Storey's Home, Christopher Godwin plays Jack the dapper chap, the role created by John Gielgud, while David Calder steps into the tweedy part of Harry, originally taken by Ralph Richardson. It's to Storey's credit that the parts of the two old codgers are indelible enough to outlive their knightly creators, at least when given such plausible portraits as those presented in Sean Holmes's sure-footed production.

Anthony Lamble's sparse set gives little away - two white, wrought-iron chairs around a table, a stone balustrade, and a lawn that has seen better days, like the two elderly gents who stroll up. They begin a desultory conversation. "It's not too hot, no, not too cold", and it begins to dawn: they're not too mad, not too sane. They despair - through the agonies and frustration of severed communication, half-begun sentences, half-remembered memories - over the state of Britain and life now, often with deadpan humour. "I sometimes think if the war had been prolonged another 30 years we'd have all felt the benefit," says Jack in a moment of apparent profundity. They're glad they live on an island but just how stranded they actually are only becomes apparent as, jokes and card tricks forgotten, their stiff upper lips begin to wobble and tears flow.

The two women, not introduced until the second act, add a quite different dimension, while revealing that all four are patients in a vast, impersonal mental institution, the home where no one's heart is. Marjorie (Sandra Voe) hides her insecurities with her world-weary attitude to everything: "rape, intercourse, physical pleasure", nothing shocks her. If Geraldine James seems less well-cast as cackling Kathleen, contorting her face and sometimes trying too hard to be mad instead of just being herself, she takes the agony of ill-fitting shoes onto a new level. So convincingly does she convey bleeding feet, cramped toes and bruised ankles, that I limped out of the theatre in sympathy. She's the girl who's game for anything, desperate for her lonely life to be filled, especially with a bit of nookie - with anyone. The humour is black, the sadness of their lives ineffable.

Soon the two couples are trying to make contact, like four ghostly dancers gliding around each other, sometimes touching a nerve, often retreating into the neutral subject of the weather. As the fragmentary pieces are juggled into some sort of recognisable position - including Jack's "certain proclivity" for little girls and Harry's pyromaniacal tendencies - the reasons for the characters' incarceration become less hazy, though they are never entirely clear in Storey's typically enigmatic snapshot.

Touring to Bury St Edmunds (01284 769505) 9 to 13 November; Cambridge Arts Theatre (01223 503333) 16 to 20 November; Liverpool Playhouse (0151-709 4776) 23 to 27 November

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum