A young couple settle into their first home together. The flat is a bit scruffy and they are protective of their new son, but they are together and happy. Because they seem so sensible, it takes us a while to realise that they are only sixteen - and trying to combine school, work and parenting without the support of their own parents. Home is all the more interesting for not falling into the cliches of irresponsible teenage life.
From that high point the problems mount, and the pressures on Lauren and Reece grow - though perhaps not as thick and fast as you might expect. We see them solely within the cocoon that they have created in their little flat, and Lotty Holder as Lauren and Logan Jones as Reece give us a sympathetic young couple, struggling to do the right thing with limited resources. Do they prioritise food or cleanliness, sacrifice school or work? And should they be avoiding the parents that have failed them?
The dialogue in Gabriel Stewart’s script has just the right mix of tenderness and argumentativeness, and if at times it seems a little sophisticated, it is a reminder that many teenagers are smart and eloquent. Jones portrays Reece tenderly, undoubtedly thrown by his new situation, but wholeheartedly committing to his new role - a mature performance fitting for a mature young man.
Lauren is the more troubled of the pair, and Holder nicely conveys her growing paranoia and fear of her son being taken off her - though I did feel that the there wasn’t quite enough in the play to justify the dramatic denouement. As Lauren’s mum, Shannon, Keira MacAlister is a fearsome figure, particularly on the occasion she is angrily kept outside the door and not even seen on stage. She brought a definite edge to the performance, and if there had been more of her earlier it would have ratcheted up the tension. Counterpointing that relationship, Lauren’s antipathy towards Reece’s mum is not explained enough; there are clues, but it needed to be clearer during the play.
The accompanying sound design is a joy. The classic pop songs full of love and yearning - think “Goodnight Sweetheart”, “I Only Want To Be With You” - may seem anachronistic, but capture hopeful youthful yearning alongside inevitable heartbreak.
JustOut are a new company who have brought some refreshing work to Buxton this year. Home is an insightful take on the problems of teen parenting, particularly for couples whose own parents provide no adequate role models to look up to.