Cast members of Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s “Home” — top, from left, Sophie Bortolussi, Geoff Sobelle and Justin Rose; Jennifer Kidwell on stairs; and Ching Valdes-Aran, ground level — whimsically go about their business. (Courtesy Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre)

Geoff Sobelle and friends magically build ‘Home’ at Berkeley Rep

HGTV addicts may get a kick out of something familiar in Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s production of “Home,” Geoff Sobelle’s performance art piece in which he and a group of strong, lithe actors literally build a house right in the Roda Theatre.

The mostly dialog-free presentation starts with Geoff alone, shedding a lantern light on the dark stage. He brings in a wooden frame, and then staples plastic to it.

Voila, he’s erected a wall, which becomes one side of a bedroom that has a door at the right.

He strips to his underwear, gets in bed, covers up, and, when the covers are lifted, becomes a child (David Rukin).

Meanwhile, a woman in a nightgown (Sophie Bortolussi) comes through the door, followed by older woman (Ching Valdes-Aran) also in a nightgown.

This whimsy and magic continues throughout most of “Home’s” intricately choreographed, delightfully staged 105 minutes.

Goeff and cohorts in coveralls and hard hats go on to put up a two-story structure, the bottom floor with a kitchen and dining room, the top with a bedroom, bathroom and study, and the staircase bridging them.

Once built, it’s filled with a free-flowing cast of residents moving in and out of the rooms. The most charming moments have them together (Jennifer Kidwell and Justin Rose join in) doing their morning routine: showering, brushing their teeth in towels and turbans, and making breakfast.

As the day goes on, they invite people from the audience to an ever-raucous wine party, which morphs into a birthday, graduation and wedding.

As the stage becomes packed and festivities spin out of control (a penguin, shark and police are onstage), this lightly-themed meditation on what “home” means gets less interesting.

Nonetheless, it’s a showcase of dazzling stagecraft, meticulously directed by Lee Sunday Evans, with an awesome scenic concept by Steven Dufala.

It wouldn’t come off without a superlative creative and production team, including Christopher Kuhl (lights), Brandon Wolcott (sound), Karen Young (costumes), Steve Cuiffo (illusion design), Stefanie Sobelle (dramaturg), David Newmann (choreography) and stage and technical managers Lisa McGinn, Kevin J. P. Hanley and Chris Swetcky.

Jazz, Latin and marching band music provide the varied lively soundtrack, and troubadour Elvis Perkins’ original folk and Hawaiian-tinged tunes (he accompanies himself on zither or guitar) add welcome melancholy and depth.

REVIEW

Home

Presented by Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Where: Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays-Fridays, 7 p.m. most Wednesdays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays; closes April 21

Tickets: $31.50 to $80

Contact: (510) 647–2949, www.berkeleyrep.org

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