Review: The House Of Yes
Image: Hope Theatre
Anthony - Bart Lambert
Jackie-O - Collete Eaton
Gill King - Mrs Pascal
Fergus Leathem - Marty
Kaya Bucholc - Lesly
Just what happens when you grow up in a house that only says "yes"?
Meet the Pascals.
A family living in the shadow of the Kennedy clan.
Outside their Washington D.C. home a hurricane is raging.
Inside, at the eye of the storm, a series of twisted and dangerous events have been set in motion that can only have one destination.
It's Thanksgiving, 1983.
Jackie-O is beyond excited to have her twin brother Marty home.
He's excited too, but for different reasons.
He's bringing home his fiancée to meet the family.
Younger brother Anthony is impressed, perhaps worryingly so, and mother Pascal is too zoned out on pills to be paying much attention to anything.
The scene is set for an evening of twisted machinations and mind-games that will leave the players with scars that will never ever heal.
The multi award winning Hope Theatre presents a rare revival of Wendy MacLeod's deliciously dark comic drama given cult status by the 90's film starring Parker Posey.
THE HOUSE OF YES is the 11th in-house production from The Hope Theatre team and is directed by its award winning Artistic Director Matthew Parker.
It follows previous in-house shows THRILL ME: THE LEOPOLD & LOEB STORY (3 Off West End Award nominations), THE LESSON (4 Off West End Award nominations) and LOVESONG OF THE ELECTRIC BEAR (winner of 2 Off West End Awards and transferred to The Arts Theatre, West End).
The Hope Theatre's Artistic Director, Matthew Parker, takes his final bow at this innovative and intimate venue, here directing the final production of his tenure.
Though he remains as Artistic Director to see out the year and the rest of his current season's shows, this venture punctuates his hugely admirable body of work that has amply demonstrated both his gifted directing and his inspired talent for spotting unusual and powerful shows to delight and engage Islington audiences.
Having gained a string of awards and nominations for many of the Hope's in-house productions, Mr Parker delivers here what may just go down as the icing on an immensely successful creative cake.
Mr Parker has regularly brought us humour, often combining dark undercurrents or overtones that almost dare us to laugh, eagerly mixed with unsettling moments that sometimes disturb.
And this blend of emotions and themes comes richly together in The House of Yes - a dark comedy that proves immensely funny in spite of some considerably serious issues that Wendy MacLeod cleverly weaves into her off-beat and inventive script.
If you haven't stopped-off to read the synopsis or background details above, you might want to review them before proceeding as I'm not going to repeat those well-written notes.
Colette Eaton as Jackie-O - photo by lhphotoshots
The play focuses on a family reunion in a wealthy household that never seems to have ever entertained or hosted any visitors or guests before.
Mrs Pascal (Gill King) is a matriarch with a 'free sprit' whose children seem not to have been fathered by her husband (who is now absent).
Her close-knit brood consists of twins Marty and Jackie-O, and younger sibling Anthony who claims to still be a virgin and is desperately eager to lose that status.
The dizygotic twins have a particularly close bond given the circumstances of their birth, which apparently saw Jackie-O emerging from the womb with her brother's penis in her hand (according to their mother at least).
Gold forms the essential element of Rachael Ryan's effective design, suggesting the ludicrous wealth of the family we encounter.
Gold drapes adorn the corners of the room and empty gold picture frames cover the walls, perhaps reflecting a dubious heritage or reinforcing the lack of connections with outsiders.
For this is a claustrophobically intense family harbouring lewd secrets that inevitably spew out with devastating consequences.
In a final tour de force - stamping his creative authority on the venue for posterity - Matthew Parker engages a spellbinding cast who collectively deliver splendid performances to relish.
Bart Lambert as Anthony and Colette Eaton as Jackie-O - photo by lhphotoshots
Bart Lambert (as Anthony) finds a distinctive vocal style with a singular timbre that perfectly suggests the comic oddity of his character.
And his mesmerising performance almost feels like the part was written with him in mind.
But the play has terrific parts aplenty and none of the cast miss the opportunity to shine.
Kaya Bucholc impresses as the unassuming Donut King waitress from a poor background who finds herself in the midst of a situation she simply wants to escape.
She joins Mr Lambert in a brilliantly executed bedroom scene that proves the best of the show.
Colette Eaton also excels as Jackie-O, the slinky and sexy sister who suffers from mental illness and dresses like Jackie Onassis.
Fergus Leathem, as her twin brother Marty, seemingly provides an air of apparent normalcy, though he too succumbs to the eerily dark nature of this unusually prurient household run by Gill King's well-described, laid-back mother.
This production gives a rare chance to see the play live - though I suspect it won't appeal to everyone's taste.
However, Matthew Parker relinquishes his directorial duties in top-notch style, supplying one of the best shows I've seen at this creatively adventurous venue.
Exquisitely dark, lip-bitingly funny, sometimes shockingly unnerving and delivered with eerily macabre touches, The House of Yes is simply unmissable.
PS: On Tuesday 15 October 2019, we learnt that this show had garnered two Offie Award Nominations:
Best Male in Supporting Role (Play): Bart Lambert
Best Director (Play): Matthew Parker
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Hope Theatre
Our show listing for The House Of Yes
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