The Open House

Critics' pick
1/5
Photograph: Joan Marcus
The Open House
2/5
Photograph: Joan Marcus
The Open House
3/5
Photograph: Joan Marcus
The Open House
4/5
Photograph: Joan Marcus
The Open House
5/5
Photograph: Joan Marcus
The Open House

The Open House. Pershing Square Signature Center (see Off Broadway). By Will Eno. Directed by Oliver Butler. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission.

The Open House: In brief

Having delighted and annoyed audiences with such prickly plays as Middletown and Thom Pain (based on nothing), playwright Will Eno returns with an unconventional take on family drama. The Debate Society's astute Oliver Butler directs.

The Open House: Theater review by David Cote

If the American family drama were a trout (stay with me), playwright Will Eno would gut it, shellac it, mount it on a plaque and make it wiggle and croon “Take Me to the River.” What I mean is that his work combines studied banality, sneaky weirdness and formal ingenuity. His deadpan allegory The Open House surveys the petty animosities and deadening routines of a suburban everyclan, then slowly, terribly, empties the space.

Father (Peter Friedman) stews in a wheelchair, coolly and systematically abusing his wife (Carolyn McCormick), son (Danny McCarthy), daughter (Hannah Bos) and brother (Michael Countryman). When each of them finds an excuse to exit the toxic zone, they do, the actors shortly reappearing as different characters: a real-estate agent, a handyman and so forth. The patriarch who alienated those nearest him is now outflanked by strangers. Director Oliver Butler finds the right balance of melancholy and silliness to give the story local texture and global heft, and the actors are so attuned, they’ll make you feel like you’re home for the holidays.—Theater review by David Cote

THE BOTTOM LINE: Will Eno’s absurdist take on the American family constitutes a domestic disturbance.

Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote

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Event phone: 212-244-7529
Event website: http://signaturetheatre.org
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