nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
August 13, 2006
FringeNYC has always been a great vehicle to premiere new work. It allows a production company to see their show on its feet and to work out the kinks for possible future productions. House has at its core an interesting premise, but the execution and most notably the script need work before it is ready for a future production.
The program guide suggests that the play has to do with an "American dream"-shattering home invasion. A Turkish couple, Cumhur and Ruya, are relaxing in their suburban home when a Hispanic couple, Carlos and Carmen, enter using their own key. Each couple is equally incensed that the other claims the house is theirs. There is a Christmas tree that Ruya tries to protect while the men argue. A fifth character enters briefly but I quite honestly have no idea what his purpose is. In the end, everyone reveals how they truly feel about their spouse.
I'd like to know how this is a home invasion when everyone claims to live there? When I think of home invasion I think of burglars breaking into a house to rob it or to rob/attack the home owners. Home invasion conjures an image that is much more violent than what in fact happens in this play and the characters' reactions to the "invasion" is markedly unrealistic in a play that seems otherwise to be realistic.
Still, I think it is an interesting premise to have two couples claiming to own the same home, but playwright David Bromley never actually resolves this issue (nor any of the issues the play raises for that matter). Instead the play seems to focus more on the relationships between the respective couples. Bromley very transparently reveals what the spouses really feel about each other. There is also some homosexual tension that is touched upon but goes unresolved.
Bromley's characters do not earn their realizations. I never saw a character actually thinking and working through an issue; rather, I saw a playwright telling me what he wants me to know. I also never saw an American dream being shattered, but rather a playwright using a little bit of culture clash to create a play that is one long conflict without a resolution.
Handan Ozbilgin directs the production with little style. The one element I liked was her focus on Ruya's obsessive protection of the Christmas tree. At one point Ruya even chains herself to it. The clash of cultures in the production is intriguing but it is underplayed and does little to forward the plot. Unfortunately the acting is less than compelling with all actors playing one of two things, tense or persuasive, instead of giving us multifaceted, thinking characters.
This play has a great deal of potential. Bromley needs to decide what the play is really about. Everyone knows Fringe can be hit or miss. Regrettably, House needs a lot of home improvement.