A sense of enthusiasm filled the air for the UC Follies’ first production of the season: Robin Taylor Wright’s Home For Boys. Warm weather provided, the Follies used the UC courtyard as a backdrop to provide a natural setting for the play’s humorous yet emotional tone.
Set during 1996 in southern Ontario, Home For Boys is based around the lives of three boys and details both the joys and struggles of growing up in a group home. At 13 years of age, P.J. (played by Caitie Graham) is the eldest and latest bloomer of the group; his best friend Randall (Grace Poltrack) bears a dominant and authoritative personality for a 12-year-old. Between the card games, wrestling, and Nintendo, life seems great for the carefree protagonists who, despite their casual disposition are actually dealing with serious issues. When a new kid named Casey (Jane A. Smythe) arrives at the home, the relationship between Randall and P.J. is interrupted.
Home For Boys examines each character’s respective struggle in coming to terms with the feeling of abandonment. The play exposes the often-stigmatized subject of mental illness, all while examining the psychological issues that victims of abuse face. Despite the story being entirely fictional, it nevertheless echoes deep tones of reality.
Home For Boys is an emotional, thought-provoking theatre piece filled with playfulness and sensibility. Each actor gives a well-rounded performance, immersing the audience in the characters’ strenuous lives. Graham displays depth in humor, Poltrack conveys fragility, and Smythe presents solitude; the creative decision to cross-gender cast three women in male roles greatly contributed to the success of the play. Home for Boys exhibited a rare ability to present serious subject matter in both a humorous and genuine tone, which generated all-around enticing theatre.