“THE Home Front” tells the story of three Australian women during November 1916. The show is based on extensive research but has no definitive script.
At the beginning of the performance, audience members attribute character traits and roles to the actors. The weaving of audience suggestions into the unfolding drama provides evidence of the improvised nature of the show.
Improvisation offers the audience a sense of authenticity and universality. We can see the actors responding with truth, in real time, to situations which are inspired by a particular setting (World War I) and which are also universal human experiences.
However improvisation places its own barriers between the audience and the story. It’s easy to find oneself becoming distracted from plot and character development into second-guessing what is pre-planned and what is improvised. And while it’s engaging to see genuine impulses and emotions from the characters, pace is sometimes a casualty in this war.
“The Home Front” has a clear and satisfying plot, indicating that the elements of improvisation are contained within a distinct set of possibilities.
It would be an interesting show to see again, as the similarities and differences between performances would offer further insight into both the subject matter and the conventions used to bring it to the stage.
As we enter the centenary of World War I and living memory of that time fades, it’s pleasing to see a spotlight on women’s stories.