Will Eno’s The Open House is very funny – laugh out loud a lot funny. It’s a bombardment of one-liners, but many are dark and often border on cruel. This may sound bleak, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Two adult children come home to spend a day with their parents and uncle to celebrate their parents’ anniversary. The father has been ill and their mother seems out of touch with reality. Everything the father says is caustic. The mother is the target of most of his sarcastic, cutting humor although he treats the entire family as fair game. The house and the parents feel like they are just waiting to decay and die. At one point the daughter asks what the house was like when they were young. Could there ever have been joy in this house? The children now have their own lives but when they enter their parents’ home they are taken aback by the negativity that exists within the walls and seem to become shadows of their current selves. Not being able to tolerate being in this space the daughter leaves to pick up lunch, the son leaves to bring back his girlfriend and the uncle leaves to pick up medicine at the drugstore. The mother leaves because of an emergency.
Enter the real estate agent. Little did anyone know that the father had contracted to sell their house. She is the real estate agent from hell (I think I used her once) who begins re-decorating to make the house more marketable. Prospective buyers come in and find the house charming and feel it has potential. They see this house through the eyes of hope and happiness.
The actors do double time as family members and prospective buyers and they are terrific. The writing is superb. I left the theater feeling sad but oddly elated. How is it that some families can be so happy and have so much fun while others cannot? Why are some people so miserable and is change at all possible? Will Eno is optimistic. In The Open House one family was unhappy and seemed stuck. Another chose to look at life with hope, love and excitement. We all have the choice.
All seats at the Signature’s Linney Theater are good. $25/ticket, but there is not much availability online. Try calling the theater. (212-244-7529) LAR