It’s evident things will go badly astray from the moment notoriously punctual Danish army captain Carsten is late to dinner at his former army buddy Kim and his girlfriend Iben’s apartment. Past and present quickly begin to collide with lasting implications for all three as old secrets, current troubles and personal convictions are dissected.
Christoffer Berdal directs the Scandinavian American Theater Company’s production of Andreas Garfield’s Home Sweet Home, based on accounts of Danish soldiers who participated in the Iraq peacekeeping missions. It’s the English language debut for the play, which was translated by Lisa Pettersson (who stars as Iben).
The issue of PTSD and the psychological impact on soldiers following the deployment largely drives the story, illustrated through Carsten’s anger at the way the war changed his fellow soldiers and later, his own behavior.
Danish actor Albert Bendix does a commendable job in the role of Carsten, his mannerisms consistently surprising as his character slips into both social impropriety – insulting Iben’s job, sneaking up on Kim with a knife – and scathing criticism of the settled life of his fellow Danes, including Kim.
American Brian Smolin gives an able performance of Kim in some painfully awkward scenes as he tries to remain both the man his girlfriend knows while also behaving as the raucous youth he believes his friend is (or wants him to be). Caught in the middle of it all is Iben, whose convincing, vehement opposition to the war and Denmark’s participation emerges as well-intended but condescending.
The production makes use of video shorts to illustrate characters’ offstage actions, which is a helpful tool that allows for seemingly small instances to expand the story arc. They’re projected on Marte Ekhoughen’s simple but effective set, with precariously tall stacks of cardboard boxes framing the sides of an open-plan kitchen.
Home Sweet Home presents a powerful, convincing narrative of a society trying to promote peace during a war, while misunderstanding the war that remains at home for those who return.