The House of Yes at the Hope Theatre, directed by Matthew Parker in his final production at the theatre, is a very dark play which calls itself a black comedy but fails to make the audience laugh.
Wendy MacLeod’s play shows us the Pascals family living in Washington D.C., close to Kennedy’s compound. It is 1983 and the elder brother, Marty (Fergus Leathem) comes back home for Thanksgiving dinner, bringing along his fiancée, Lesly (Kaya Bucholc). However, his family are not ready to welcome this new girl. His mother (Gill King), younger brother Anthony (Bart Lambert) and twin sister Jackie-O (Colette Eaton) play a dangerous and twisted game to get her out of their house and their life.
Marketed as a play about spoiled children who grow up in a house that only says ‘Yes’, this play turns in to a series of shameful and disgusting scenes about violence, sexual perversions and insanity which lacks any internal explanation and is poorly delivered.
Described as a warped comedy, the various scenes are hardly convincing and the actions of the character make little sense, it’s impossible to identify with any of them. Perhaps it is this lack of inner logic which makes the performances feel so schematic, where every one felt either overly dramatic or completely blunt.
The set and sound design are the only truly strong moments in The House of Yes, Rachel Ryan symbolises the lost wealth through empty picture frames and gold drapery. Clever use of the small theatre space lets the audience become part of the action, and see the events from different angles. The hurricane that blows so fiercely outside the Pascals home is well depicted in the sound and lighting design.
Both as a play and a production The House of Yes is truly disappointing. Even as a black comedy it’s a struggle to understand how any of the content could be considered humorous, a problem confounded by over the top and unbelievable performances.