Volume 21 Number 2
Homeward Bound, a two-act modern "comedy of manners," focuses attention on themes of family relationships and euthanasia. Hayes sets his drama within the context of a family gathering called by Bonnie and Glen Beacham to announce Glen's illness and his desire to have one of the family assist in his suicide. "Ethically," Glenn, the retired lawyer, explains, "as a dying man, I should have the freedom to choose to die." The reactions of his children, Nick and Norris and their mates, provide Hayes an opportunity to satirize the modern middle class.
Hayes' "comedy of manners" focuses on death rather than the more traditional love theme. The characters presented, with the possible exception of Bonnie Beacham, are types rather than individuals. In fact, Hayes provides notes on his characters to supplement the type casting.
Despite the darkness of the situation, Hayes provides dialogue that is quick-paced and witty. Bonnie insists, "we consider ourselves normal"; however, she admits, "we don't think the way we used to anymore." In spite of her assertion, her middle class dysfunctional family finds the reality of death confusing and painful.
"Everybody's got a bubble in them," Bonnie explains, "and it can only take up so much room before it forces whatever we are out." Glenn's bubble takes him homeward, nullifying the murder versus suicide conflict that erupted and forcing his children to find their own way out and homeward.
Homeward Bound had its world premiere at the Stratford Festival in 1991 and its U.S. premiere in Dallas in 1992.
Darleen R. Golke is a teacher-librarian at Fort Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba
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