FRINGE 2017: 'Home'

This show is basically a horror movie, but what makes it truly stand apart from the standard thriller or slasher is the fourth-dimensional aspect that the stage allows.

Theater is unique in how it can utilize a setting like no other medium. Home, written by Ben Dudley and directed by Buz Davis, is basically a horror movie. But what makes it truly stand apart from the standard thriller or slasher is the fourth-dimensional aspect that the stage allows. Dudley and Davis’ sixth contribution by Homegrown Theater to the Fringe means to mess with the audience. It incorporates onstage action, dialogue, voiceover and live music and interactive projections, all intended to involve the audience in the plot.

It follows Rachel, played by Leah Strasser, working on a book but experiencing writer’s block after a home invasion shakes her up. While housesitting for vacationing Kurt (David A. Levy) and William (Mark Bowen) in hopes of some peace to work on her book, she begins to suspect a neighbor, Tasha (Tricia Allen). Both Tasha and Rachel suspect the vacationing couple might be in trouble.

Before the show even starts there’s an unsettling heartbeat thumping through the speakers. Kurt and William are introduced as a couple who have been together for 35 years; they were assaulted in their apartment a year before. They’ve become recluses, interacting only with Tasha. But something is amiss: Sometimes their phone rings, and they hear breathing on the other end. Every now and then, a face peers through the window. But what’s most unsettling is that Rachel occupies the same space as Kurt and William, yet she and the couple never notice each other.

It’s a clever conceit, with the actors dancing around each other as they occupy the same furniture and hear knocks at the door. But the real kicker is the ambiguity about time. Are Kurt and William in the present and Rachel in the past? Or is it the opposite? Does Tasha know more than she lets on? 

The actors are game for this whodunit, with everyone amping up the paranoia and angst to 11. The multimedia, such as Rachel’s thoughts while she’s writing projected over the loudspeaker, is incorporated without a skipped beat. All in all, it’s surprisingly deep and professional for a simple one-room murder mystery. 

The ending doesn’t quite pay off based on the incredible setup. Nevertheless, it ties up character and thematic arcs appropriately. It’s more the journey that’s important, in confident hands that know just when to twist the knife. 

The CINCINNATI FRINGE FESTIVAL continues through June 11. Find CityBeat reviews of 41 early performances here. For a full schedule and more info about Fringe, visit

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