In its production of the “The House of Yes,” the GW Department of Theatre and Dance approaches the themes of incest and human sexuality with poignant humor. Written by Wendy Macleod, the play focuses on five distinctly deranged individuals. Through the unique characters and their interaction, “The House of Yes” offers a glimpse of human nature through a veil of black comedy.
Despite some short-changing on laughs, the cast meets the challenge of convincingly portraying characters that are abnormally uneasy, dark and insane.
The play opens in the Pascal family living room in a Washington, D.C. suburb the day before Thanksgiving in 1983. The Pascals’ eldest son, Marty (sophomore George Reddick), returns home with Leslie (junior Janine Barris-Gerstl), his fianc?e from Donut King. With the presentation of his soon-to-be wife, he sparks an intense jealousy in his younger sister, Jackie O (sophomore Jessica Love).
Thanksgiving dinner is ruined by a hurricane-prompted power outage, echoing Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” The power outage sets the scene for a night of animalistic sexual escapades. Siblings Marty and Jackie O end up on the couch together. Meanwhile, the youngest Pascal sibling, Anthony (senior Christopher Hahn) awkwardly seduces his older brother’s fianc?e.
Portraying characters that veer off into divergent spheres of lunacy, the cast members face the task of sculpting the insanity of the characters into believable, separate personalities. Love layers Jackie O’s character especially well, incorporating odd politeness, intelligence and nagging jealousy.
The all-night blackout condemns almost half of the play to darkness, affording some interesting spot lighting that isolates the two couples’ night- long adventures. Split in half, the stage holds both situations simultaneously – one in light and the other in darkness. The sharp contrast in lighting illuminates the multi-sided personalities of the upper-class Pascal family. Under the direction of Nathan Garner, the cast skillfully develops the peculiar characters and brings them to life on stage.
“The House of Yes” will be performed Oct. 8-11 in the Dorothy Betts Theatre. The shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8 for students and $10 for members of the general public.