The Open House: six degrees of obscuration

Open House-5204

Less than halfway through this evening, I wrote in my notebook, “I don’t want to spend any more time with them.” Mostly, I was talking about the characters; there are strengths—as well as significant weaknesses—in the production.

In The Open House, which runs an unbroken 90 minutes, adult Son and Daughter have come home to celebrate Mother and Father’s wedding anniversary. The evening starts with an extended passage in which these four—and Uncle—abuse each other and ignore one another’s cries for help.

Having suffered strokes and heart attacks, Father uses a wheelchair—and he’s a flaming asshole. When Uncle makes a comment about the kids’ affection for pets, Father spits, “How many times do I have to ask you never to think about this family?” Father relentlessly insults and belittles Mother, making it clear that she is a third-choice wife who has become an idiotic inconvenience. And, when Son tries to open up to Father, Father says, “Work this into your sleep” and mimes shooting him. [Read more…]

Of all the shows that are on right now, The Aliens is the one to catch

Annie Baker's The Aliens is playing at the Havana Theatre in a production by Sticks and Stones.

Evan (Teo Saefkow) gazes at fireworks in The Aliens. (Photo by Matt Reznek)

This production of Annie Baker’s The Aliens is one of the best shows of the season. Go see it. I love virtually everything about it and the tickets only cost seventeen bucks.

Baker’s script is exquisite. In it, Jasper and KJ, a couple of slackers, hang out in the staff area behind a restaurant somewhere in Vermont. KJ admits to being 30. The only staff member who ever shows up is a 17-year-old named Evan.

Jasper’s girlfriend has broken up with him. KJ can’t drink anymore because the last time he did he went on a bender and stopped taking his meds. Evan thinks these guys are cool, partly because Jasper is working on a novel and he and KJ used to have a band—sort of; they spent a lot of time coming up with cool band names, including The Limp Wrists and The Aliens. Mostly, it seems, Evan likes Jasper and KJ because they include him. [Read more…]

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