Home Free!

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Home Free!
Written by Lanford Wilson
Date premiered 1964 (1964)
Place premiered New York City
Original language English
Genre One-act play

Home Free! is a one-act play by American playwright Lanford Wilson. It was first produced at Caffe Cino in 1964, a coffeehouse and small theatre run by Joseph Cino, a pioneer of the Off-Off-Broadway theatre movement.[1] It is one of Wilson's earliest plays.[2][3]

Production history[edit]

The play premiered at the Caffe Cino in New York City in January 1964, and revived there in August 1964. It was directed by William Archibald.[4][5]

It was produced in February 1965 at the New Playwrights series at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City. The play was part of a production of three plays; the others were Up To Thursday by Sam Shepard and Balls by Paul Foster.[6] This series was headed by Edward Albee, Richard Barr and Clinton Wilder.[7][8][9] The play featured Michael Warren Powell.[10]

Characters[edit]

There are two major characters, Lawrence and Joanna, as well as Edna and Claypone, who are referred to by the characters but who have no lines and are not mentioned in the Dramatis personae or in the stage directions, which implies that they are fictional characters in the minds of Lawrence and Joanna. It is implied, but never explicitly stated, that Lawrence and Joanna are brother and sister; it is also implied that they are having an incestuous relationship, which has resulted in Joanna's pregnancy.

Plot[edit]

Joanna (Lee Taylor-Allan) and Lawrence (Kenneth Boys) in the 1986 New York revival of Home Free!

Lawrence begins the play, delivering a lesson on astronomy, in particular the Pleiades. In the course of describing the effects of universal expansion (see Hubble's law) he becomes excited and jumps around the room, imitating the stars being flung in every direction. Eventually he gets tired and starts muttering to himself about Joanna's return from the grocery store, and what she has in the 'Surprise Box,' a brightly colored box that Lawrence and Joanna use to give surprise gifts to each other.

Joanna enters in a huge panic, having been seen by some frightening 'outside' entity called Pruneface, Wienerface or both. She is pregnant. They engage in a number of strange conversations seemingly at random, in a playful manner. Joanna tells of an encounter she had on a subway with a college-age boy, and Lawrence accuses her of having sex with him. They play various games, including one where Joanna is a queen and Lawrence commands Edna and Claypone to fetch her various things. All of a sudden, however, he halts the game with the line: "You're not a queen, you're a whore."

Eventually Joanna collapses, seemingly unable to walk. She screams at Lawrence to get a doctor, but he is afraid of the outside world and refuses to go outside, preferring to send Edna instead. Her pains (possibly the result of pre-eclampsia) persist, and eventually she falls, unmoving, on the bed. Lawrence leans over her and begs her to return, falling into a futile stutter as the play ends.

Pathology[edit]

Lawrence (and, to a lesser degree, Joanna) is characterized by extreme agoraphobia and fear of the outside world. He is suspicious of everything that Joanna tells him about outside and, at the end of the play, refuses to go out, even to save Joanna's life.

It is obvious that Lawrence believes totally in the existence of Edna and Claypone, and for the most part Joanna seems to share this belief. However, when Lawrence sends Edna to fetch the doctor, Joanna screams, "No, Lawrence, you go! YOU GO!!!' This implies that Joanna knows that Edna doesn't really exist and can't fetch the doctor, and has merely been pretending for Lawrence's sake.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Caffe Cino Pictures: Lanford Wilson: The Mozart from Missouri
  2. ^ Williams, p. 17
  3. ^ Barnett, p. 4
  4. ^ Stone, Wendell "Veiled Strangeness" Caffe Cino, SIU Press, ISBN 0809388316, p. 74
  5. ^ Wilson, Lanford. "Introduction. Script", Ludlow Fair and Home Free!, Dramatists Play Service Inc, 1993, ISBN 0822216280, p. 26
  6. ^ Theatre 1965 lortel.org, accessed November 18, 2015
  7. ^ Crespy, David A. "Producers at Work", Richard Barr: The Playwright's Producer , SIU Press, 2013, ISBN 0809331411, p. 134
  8. ^ Dean, Anne. "From Missouri to Manhattan", Discovery and Invention: The Urban Plays of Lanford Wilson, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1994, ISBN 0838635482, p. 18
  9. ^ "History: 1960-1969" Cherry Lane Theatre, accessed September 3, 2015
  10. ^ Bottoms, Stephen J (2004). Playing Underground: A Critical History of the 1960s Off-Off-Broadway Movement. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN 0-472-11400-X. 

References[edit]

  • Barnett, Gene A. (1987). Lanford Wilson. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 080577498X. 
  • Williams, Philip Middleton (1993). A Comfortable House: Lanford Wilson, Marshall W. Mason and the Circle Repertory Theatre. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0899508367.