Define normal. It’s all relative until someone goes and sleeps with their twin sibling and then tries to marry outside of the loony family, right? Putting the fun, or maybe the frightening, in dysfunctional family are those appearing in The Mobtown Players production of The House of Yes. Directed by David Morey, this twisted family drama delves deep behind closed doors to unearth old family secrets that may just ruin everyone’s Thanksgiving reunion. A darkly witty drama with comedic elements splashed about like blood spatter, it is a highly intriguing piece of work that will keep you captivated until the show’s shocking conclusion.
Director David Morey manages to craft a good deal of tension into the scenes as well as allowing the black humor and wit of the play to thrive naturally among the characters. His exceptional ability to balance suspense-driven moments of dialogue against those equally compelling in silence is what makes the play really function as a whole. It is Morey’s sharply honed directional skills that really achieve success in this production; coaxing unbelievable scenes of shocking thriller-esque moments out of the characters and the relationships conceived between them.
The five person ensemble works extremely well together; each aloof in their own bubble of reality but fiercely present when interacting with others. The insanity runs deep within the family roots, sprouting up like a persistent weed that simply cannot be destroyed. These moments of raw lunacy are tempered with awkward pauses that make the drama that much more bizarre and twisted. Tackling the heavy themes of mental instability, incest and infidelity; the cast succeeds in bringing a terrifying life to this startling story.
Mrs. Pascal (Deb Carson) is precariously balanced on the edge of madness, unlike her daughter who is well in the deep end, and her two sons who portray varying degrees of nuts. Carson is severe in her approach to the needling mother, oscillating between overbearing in her attempt to protect the family and over-the-top in her approach to getting rid of Lesly.
Coming into the mess as the poor outsider, Lesly (Karen Grim) has no idea what she’s in for when she enters the family home for a seemingly normal Thanksgiving dinner. Grim presents a cheery disposition with a gentle flightiness about her character, which helps her naiveté have an actual innocence to it. Grim marks a great progression in her character as the dawning realization that she’s in way over her head comes to light and she goes from hopeful and kind to defensive and flared with passion trying to help Marty escape the clutches of his insane relations.
Grim’s character’s existence is defined not only by her fragile engagement to Marty but by her peculiar interactions with Anthony (Brian M. Kehoe.) The bizarre, albeit unsettling, chemistry that the pair share is questionable and yet enhances the twisted mood of this plot. Kehoe settles heavily into a very distinguished character; slow speech patterns with a clearly defined accent, leading the audience to believe he might be a bit slow on the uptake. There is a subtle creepiness about him that becomes more pronounced as the play progresses; his mannerisms creating a palpable tension in the air between him and Grim; ultimately leading to a majorly thrilling plot twist.
Kehoe sparks and barbs well against his brother Marty (Eric Paul Boesche) even if their interactions are brief; the familial disquiet is present. Boesche plays the epitome of an unbalanced man, teetering on the brink of sanity as he falls victim to his family’s madness. Boesche nearly plays two characters, the difference between his rational sane self and the one stricken with the mental sickness so vast. Boesche and Grim have a touching scene where she gently describes their normal life to him as if she were talking a jumper down from a ledge and for a moment he becomes swept away in the possibility of normalcy.
But for as quickly as those moments of salvation come for Boesche’s character is as quickly as Jackie-O (Melody Easton) tears them away. Clearly deranged from the moment she appears on the stage, Easton’s approach to playing a lunatic is wildly enthralling. Her gestures are at first discreet, her speech patterns and little hints of inflection making you question and ponder. But once her full blown madness comes into view there is no mistaking that she’s bonkers. Her character exudes an air of sexuality that borders on being a predator when it comes to Marty and she can hardly reign in her jealousy when confronting Lesly. Easton is mesmerizing in an almost demonic fashion; like a moth drawn to the flame you cannot help but give into the performance she’s giving, even though it’s terrifying and you know it’s wrong.
The House of Yes has a brilliantly assembled cast making this riveting drama definitely worth investigating, as long as you don’t stay too long in The House of Yes.
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, with one intermission.
The House of Yes plays through November 23, 2013 at The Mobtown Players at Meadow Mill— 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 114, in Baltimore, MD. Tickets may be purchased at the door (no credit cards at the door at this time)—or online.