Sunday, November 7, 2010

Alliance Theatre Lab: House of Yes (4 reviews)

Alliance Theatre Lab opened its production of Wendy MacLeod's House of Yes on November 4, 2010.
The Pascals, for whom the clock stopped with the Kennedy assassination, are shut in as a Thanksgiving hurricane swirls outside. Arriving ahead of the storm's eye are Jackie-O's twin brother, Marty and his fiancee Lesly. The obsessive Jackie is keen to renew her long-running incestuous affair with Marty, which is fine by the mother, who's still lamenting her husband's desertion, and by puppyish younger brother Anthony who immediately desires Lesly. The resulting battle over Marty becomes something of a class struggle between the Pascals' poetic insanity and Lesly's plebian pragmatism.
Adalberto Acevedo directed a cast that featured Jehane Serralles, Brigitte Kali, LaVonne Canfield, David Sirois and Justin McLendon.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for The Miami New Times:
The House of Yes is a delightful play that will nevertheless make you squirm... And if the Alliance Theatre Lab didn't exist, South Florida audiences probably would never get to see it.
So thank goodness for Alliance, which not only has the will to produce an oddity such as The House of Yes but also knows how to pull it off. Alliance director Adalberto Acevedo, who is probably the most twistedly exciting director in SoFla, believes in the ethic of "going big or going home." He inspires his actors to gamble, to wander far beyond the ordinary repertoire of gestures, attitudes, and poses.
Serralles plays Jackie O. with a kind of Technicolor derangement that's enthralling and scary, one part Margaret Hamilton wicked witch, one part Delilah.
...Mrs. Pascal... is played by LaVonne Canfield as a great edifice of consumptive womanhood..
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Wendy MacLeod's The House of Yes is a way-out-there absurdist comedy that not many South Florida theaters would even consider presenting...  Fortunately, such a script is precisely what appeals to the folks at the Alliance Theatre Lab, where dramatically challenging and intense plays keep the troupe's adventuresome audiences coming back for more.
Director Adalberto J. Acevedo keeps his deft cast walking a tightrope between comedy and tragedy, and though repetition will undoubtedly tighten the play's timing (which would be a good thing), the power of the piece is undeniable.
...the actors play these mostly twisted characters as if this family dynamic were the most natural thing in the world, a device that makes The House of Yes all the more disturbingly watchable.
Sirois expertly navigates Marty's journey from near-salvation to emotional capitulation, and Canfield makes Mrs. Pascal a truly disturbing matriarch. Serralles is initially far too over-the-top crazy. But once the mentally mercurial Jackie-O again has access to her drug of choice - Marty - the twins become equal partners in MacLeod's version of a Greek tragedy.
Bill Hirschmann reviewed for the South Florida Theater Review:
Wendy MacLeod’s viciously funny The House of Yes struggled to escape Thursday from under The Alliance Theatre Lab’s muffled, muted production.
There are a few stunning moments, likely due to Acevedo who smoothly moves people around the tiny stage in Miami Lakes. In one scene, before we are certain of just how close the twins have been in the past, they put their heads together, seemingly nose to nose, with Jackie’s long black hair masking where their faces are touching. Are they communing soul to soul? Are they kissing? It is a delightfully unnerving moment of uncertainty.
This is no one’s best work. Sirois was compelling last season... But here he’s just oatmeal. McLendon brings a contemporary David Spade-like feel to the youngest sibling. But he’s so low-key, it’s as if he doesn’t want to get caught doing anything. Kali has the thankless Janet Weiss role but does little more with it than look befuddled or appalled. Canfield is occasionally menacing with dark looks and darker murmurings, but she missed uncounted opportunities to make the most of her daffy, demented character.

Only Serralles creates a vibrant persona and seems in sync with MacLeod. That’s not just because she has the showiest role and the best lines; she has discovered and delivers most of MacLeod’s delightfully inappropriate gear-grinding comments
This is not a terrible production, just a lackluster one for a play that needs to be as spectacularly unhinged as the storm raging outside the Pascal living room.
Roger Martin reviewed for MiamiArtzine:
Wendy MacLeod's play, The House of Yes, spawned a successful movie in 1997 and it's easy to see why at the Alliance Theatre Lab's current production of the show. It's a bright, vicious and ultimately tragic ninety minutes, teetering on the edge of cartoon land but with Adalberto Acevedo's direction never crossing over.
There's a mess of subtext going on here and make of it what you will, but this production, with its brightly polished staging and fine acting lets you simply enjoy the sex, the death, the craziness and the fun of it all.
The New World School of the Arts should get a loud cheer here as all five excellent cast members are graduates who shine on Alliance's stage.
The Alliance Theatre Lab production of  The House of Yes plays at the Main Street Playhouse through November 21, 2010.

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