Captivating Charisma: ‘Home’

How would you feel if someone invaded your home—a place meant for comfort and security? Home is a solo performance starring Beau Dixon, performed at the Isabel Bader Centre and was a part of the Festival of Live Digital Art (FOLDA). In Home, Beau Dixon recalls his personal experience of a home invasion and how it changed him. He describes and recreates important moments of his life, but we are always called back to the night of the life-changing incident.

Beau is an incredible storyteller. His passionate delivery of lines and commanding presence on stage are captivating from the start. The script is exceptionally written by Beau and Linda Garneau. It jumps forward and backward through moments in Beau’s life without confusion, ranging from comedic to very serious moments, but no shift ever felt awkward. He brings it to life with his charisma and welcoming nature. He can make an audience feel like they’ve known him their whole life. This is the reason I refer to him as Beau rather than Dixon in this review. Throughout the performance one gets to know Beau on a personal level and calling him by his last name feels irregular.

The show starts with Beau playing an original song—one which is very catchy. This is a great way to introduce the show but the song stops abruptly and Beau freezes. We hear a voice momentarily. He then quickly continues with the performance but this sudden stop creates intrigue and sets a strong tone of fear and uneasiness for the performance. These momentary stops happen regularly throughout the show. During each stop, there is some kind of noise (sound design by Andrew Penner), whether it’s a voice or a knock, but it is always foreshadowing the home invasion.They’re a great demonstration to the viewer of what Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is and how Beau is affected by it. 

I loved how these stops utilised lighting. When they happen, the lighting instantly switches to extremely bright from a dim, warmer (more yellow) light. Bright enough to where the audience can see the wings of the stage. This lighting change is jarring, but also makes Beau look small on stage when compared to other lighting where he appears large and commanding. This perfectly highlights how Beau felt during the invasion: small and controlled. 

The props on stage are minimal—I really enjoyed this. There was only a guitar, a table, and a chair. You might be thinking, how can someone re-enact their life with just these three objects? Beau uses them in incredibly interesting and creative ways. He uses the table as the door to his house, for example. He also makes use of a long screen that is seen behind him. In displaying images on the screen, he helps a viewer visually understand his descriptions.

A creative choice I found pleasantly surprising was the use of dancers (Lisa Auguste and Kelly Shaw; choreographed by Linda Garneau) in the performance. Instead of having dancers present on the stage, dancers would occasionally be projected behind him on the screen.  I think having dancers actually present on stage would be distracting and feel out of place. Beau commands attention while on stage; if more people were added to his large presence, it would make the stage feel crowded. The dancers were used creatively to express Beau’s subconscious and internal feelings. If Beau was explaining a stressful time in his life they would start running aimlessly. If he spoke about getting pummelled by the intruders, the dancers started kicking and throwing punches. The dancers unpack another layer of Beau’s character for the audience to witness.

FOLDA has three stages of performances being shown.The first stage is Alpha, where this might be the first time the performers are ever performing the show. The second second stage is Beta which means they have performed it a few times, but are still touching up the performance. Finally the Go stage refers to performances that are stage-ready. This show was at the Beta stage and was the first time it was performed in front of a live audience. Beau was performing with a script the whole time and there were also some audio mis-cues, both of which I found distracting. 

Another hindrance was its runtime. The show clocked in at around 50 minutes and when it ended I felt like there was still more story to tell. We heard a lot about Beau, but I wanted to know more about the other people in his life that he touched on throughout the performance. This point was also raised during the Question and Answer session at the end of the show. The individuals involved said they were thinking of adding more elements, and only time will reveal whether or not they expand on it. 

Home is a fantastic retelling of Beau Dixon’s life. Through charisma and passionate storytelling, Beau is able to captivate the audience and make one feel like they’re living in his shoes. I can not wait to see the improvements this show makes in the coming years and I will be the first to buy a ticket for their Go performance. 

More information on ‘Home’ can be found here and Beau Dixon’s website can be found here.

This article was edited on December 1st, 2023 to update formatting.