Set in a multi-generational household, Sally Alrich-Smythe’s Homesick offers intelligent and warmly funny insight into the changing scope of women’s ambitions and opportunities.
Musically gifted and with her mum Rachel at her back, Samantha has been a couple of years in America studying at a prestigious music college in New York City. Unexpectedly, and with exams looming, Sam is back in Wallerawang, NSW. She’s burned out, very unhappy and doesn’t seem to have any concrete plans for her future, let alone returning to her studies.
Rachel takes a softly-softly approach, based on the assumption that her daughter will come to her senses and pull herself together in a couple of weeks.
Sam, meanwhile, appears close to abandoning her dreams altogether. But then again, are they really Sam’s dreams, or are they Rachel’s?
Wisely, Alrich-Smythe leaves her characters open to question and leaves it that way. Is Sam in the grip of a reality check, having found she’s not quite the talent she believed herself to be?
Has Rachel’s life-long encouragement of her daughter only served to set Sam up for failure? Indeed, are Rachel’s own youthful ambitions – she was a promising writer – at the root of all this? And what are the mental health implications for all involved?
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Homesick is a confident and engaging first play presented in polished fashion by director Claudia Osborne, whose production seamlessly integrates video and app-based communication into the storytelling.
Projected oversize on designer Emma White’s set, old VHS tapes of Sam in childhood contrast strongly with the melancholy young woman we observe on stage and it’s telling, perhaps, that the climactic confrontation between mother and daughter is not face-to-face but via FaceTime.
The performances are very good, led by Eliza Scott as the emotionally opaque Sam. Her music is good enough to make you want to hear more of it. Deborah Galanos brings to light the complexity and contradictions in Rachel. Annie Byron is vivaciously dotty as Eadie, Sam’s grandmother, and Alex Stylianou maintains a mocking orbit as Jess, Sam’s first love, now a Friday night entertainment producer at the local hotel.
All up, a persuasive depiction of love and expectation, and of their combined weight.