This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

20Mar/14

THE OPEN HOUSE

(photo by Joan Marcus)

A severely dysfunctional family is stuck in its ways in Will Eno’s black comedy at the Signature (photo by Joan Marcus)

The Pershing Square Signature Center
The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre
480 West 42nd St. between Tenth & Eleventh Aves.
Extended through March 30, $25 through March 23, $75 after
212-244-7529
www.signaturetheatre.org

In Title and Deed, the first of his three plays as part of the Signature Theatre’s Residency Five program, Will Eno explored the concept of home and finding one’s place in a community. In his follow-up, The Open House, it appears that home might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Or is it? “Why are we like this?” the daughter (Hannah Bos) calls out as an unnamed family bickers over just about everything. The wheelchair-bound father (Peter Friedman) is a brutally vicious man, aiming acerbic and mean-spirited barbs at his grown daughter and son (Danny McCarthy), mild-mannered brother (Michael Countryman), and ditzy wife (Carolyn McCormick). It’s so acrimonious and loveless that the beloved family dog has run away. But with a sly nod to Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park, the play takes a major turn in the second half, one that builds to an unexpectedly satisfying climax. Directed by Oliver Butler (Cape Disappointment, You’re Welcome), Eno’s story takes place on Antje Ellermann’s family room set, the front of which has been torn away, welcoming the audience to the vitriol and strangeness that reside within — but which shifts dramatically in the second half of the eighty-minute play, when it becomes the kind of open house potential buyers stop by to consider whether this might be the next step on their personal journey toward finding home and happiness. Eno (Middletown, Broadway’s new The Realistic Joneses) has a firm grasp of the bathos and pathos of this hysterically dysfunctional family, employing razor-sharp dialogue to quickly establish the characters and lay the groundwork for their pending fate. The Open House is another savvy, perceptive work from an extremely clever and creative playwright, a true rising star.

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