By Tulis McCall

On the very day that I was preparing to greet this play by Samm-Art Williams I discovered that Williams had passed on a month prior. With many a story untold no doubt.  If Home is any measure, this is a profound loss.

Home is a prodigal-son kind of story.  Cephus Miles (Tory Kittles) is a son of the land his family owned and worked for generations.   His story is laid out like an epic poem, and all the characters in Cephus’s tale (over 40) are portrayed by Brittany Inge and Stpri Ayers.  These two women are nothing short of magnificent.  They play women, men, and children with minimal costume changes and often a transition that is so fast it seems that they have morphed into a new character within the space of a few seconds.  That is because they have.  Because of their skill and generosity onstage, Kittle is free to roam Miles’ life journey.  It is a long one.

Kittle is indeed a skilled storyteller.  However, and perhaps it was early-run jitters, he spoke so fast that it was hard to absorb his tales.  It was the women who held the reins while Kittle thrashed from point to point.  One can hope that he will start to trust his many talents and settle in to the seat of his character in the near future.  His speed, if left unchecked, might undermine Miles’ trajectory and the story as a whole.

Crossroads, North Carolina was Miles’ home.  Small town filled with people with tales to tell.  His upbringing was strict, which didn’t mean he didn’t step out of line from time to time.  A switch from the back woods (he had to cut these himself) would bring him around and provide him with a new story to add to his warehouse.

With the passing of his elders Miles inherited the farm and the responsibilities that go with it.  Too bad for him, however, that the Vietnam War was just beginning and the draft was scooping  up men all around Miles.  When he refused to sign up on religious grounds he was sentenced to 5 years in prison.  Torn from his home and his land Miles became a broken man.  The only memory that sustained him was the one of his true and first love Pattie Mae Wells (Inge). The other was his ongoing beef with God, who, Miles was pretty sure, was sitting on a beach in Miami without a care for A-N-Y-B-O-D-Y.

With nothing waiting at home, Miles traveled like Odysseus, and the road was not kind.  The North may be advertised as the promised land but it falls short.  He spent 13 years as a wanderer.  It was not until a genuine miracle restored Miles’ heritage that he was guided home where Jim Crow was out and integration (of sorts) was the new condition.  The roads are paved.  There is a bus station.  The toilets and fountains are used by everyone.  The children have manners if you wait long enough.  Women wear calico dresses, not satin, and the fish-fry is still happening every week – now with entertainment.

But the welcome home is not complete without a surprise dash of a little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ that Williams used to tie the story up with a cherry on top.  Talk about story-telling skills…

HOME will give you hope.  Something we could all use, yes?

HOME by Samm-Art Williams, Directed by Kenny Leon

The creative team for Home includes: Arnulfo Maldonado (Set), Dede Ayite (Costumes), Allen Lee Hughes (Lighting), and Justin Ellington (Sound). 

through July 21, 2024 at the Todd Haimes Theatre on Broadway (227 West 42nd Street).

TICKET INFORMATION:  Tickets for Home are currently available by calling 212.719.1300, online at roundabouttheatre.org, or in person at the Todd Haimes Theatre (227 West 42nd Street). For groups of 10 or more please call 212-719-9393 x 365 or email groupsales@roundabouttheatre.org. 

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: 

Home plays Tuesday through Saturday evening at 8:00PM with Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:00PM and Sunday matinees at 3:00PM. Following opening night on June 5, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evening performances will be at 7:00PM. Please visit roundabouttheatre.org for the most up-to-date performance schedule.