Home Front

A NoHo Arts theatre review of Victory Theatre Center’s Home Front.
C.J. Lindsey and Austin Highsmith Garces. Photo by Tim Sullens.

[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of Victory Theatre Center’s Home Front, writtetn by Tony® Award-winning playwright Warren Leight, directed by Maria Gobetti, and running through February 12.

Home Front begins its sad story in the after glow of WWII.  When the exhaustion of the years of war gave way to hope, joy, and a sense of giddy ecstatic urgency that had some forgetting what kind of country America still was, forged as it is by centuries of racism and bigotry.  War can be a leveler, but there are some dark habits that are hard to break.  

On VJ night, two people meet, completely by chance at an Army dance, while the world was celebrating peace and the relief of being alive. A lovely young war widow and a hansom sergeant. Drawn together by an unmistakable magical force, a deep connection that leads them out into the night together, on through the morning to the next day and into a head-spinning, wildly romantic marriage, within mere hours of meeting. 

Such a wonderful mystical event might be the stuff of fairytales if not for the fact that the widow was white and the Sergeant was Black, and in 1945 in many states in the union and especially in the US Army, interracial marriage was illegal, cause for a dishonourable discharge at best and could give a man years in prison if caught.

Marriage can be a struggle in the best of circumstances. But, this marriage with a baby on the way very quickly after the nuptials, was of course particularly difficult. Love is not the protector that we imagine it to be. The struggle wears on a person, the anger at the unfairness of their situation turns to resentment and loneliness, and in the end despair. Two people once so completely in love and then separated by their individual feelings of failure and pain.

A NoHo Arts theatre review of Victory Theatre Center’s Home Front.
Austin Highsmith Garces, C.J. Lindsey, and Jonathan Slavin. Photo by Tim Sullens.

Living in New York in a basement apartment, unable to get regular work, with the help of a warm-hearted gay upstairs neighbor, who was also a veteran, the woman finds a way forward, with less and less help from her husband. Suspicion grows, and hearts are broken. Perhaps they would have all had more of a chance these days…but it’s hard to know this for sure isn’t it, when vitriol and bigotry of so many kinds are still an onerously regular occurrence and nothing ever seems to change.

Home Front is a very beautiful and very tragic play. Poignant, heartfelt, full of realism and tragedy and love. With echos of Romeo and Juliet, if the Montagues were the north and the Capulets the south and the divide were fairness and decency instead of Jim Crow. “From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”  

Warren Leight is a wonderful playwright, unsurprisingly award winning.  He paints this picture of his archetypal lovers with a loving hand, even amidst all the sadness. You can feel the true depth of his regard for all his characters, it’s as deep as the love the three of them have for each other. 

The performances are brilliant, each of these highly accomplished actors brings it all to the stage. The characters are nuanced and funny, intelligent and melancholy and drawn to each other by their longings and their losses and their inability to avoid or change their own true natures. The set design by Evan Bartoletti, a regular at The Victory Theatre is an absolute masterpiece…so we see these wonderful actors in the world they have created.

A NoHo Arts theatre review of Victory Theatre Center’s Home Front.
C.J. Lindsey and Austin Highsmith Garces. Photo by Tim Sullens.

Maria Gobetti directs with a feather touch, as always. Isn’t the best direction always the one we cannot see? We sit breathlessly in the audience, wiping tears, laughing along and blissfully unaware of all the work and talent that brings all this together. 

Theatre is a supernatural and extraordinary place. The Victory Theatre has 40 years of consistently exceptional work with Tom Ormeny and Maria Gobetti steadily at the helm…what a blessing to Los Angeles.

Home Front runs through February 12, but don’t be fooled by time! That date will be upon us before we know it to get your tickets now and be prepared for tears…

Cast 

Janathan Slavin, C.J. Lindsey, Austin Highsmith Garces

Production

The creative team for Home Front includes set designer Evan Bartoletti, sound designer Noah Andrade, costume designer Carin Jacobs, dramaturg Gail Bryson, graphic designer Jennifer Logan and photographer Tim Sullens. The stage manager is Cody Hathcock. Maria Gobetti, Tom Ormeny and Evan Bartoletti produce for The Victory Theatre Center.

Tickets:

https://www.thevictorytheatrecenter.org/

When:

Running through February 12

Where:

3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505