Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

It Takes a Village to Undermine a Home

Matthew McLachlan’ new play, This G*d Damn House, is set in a hoarder’s dream home. Into this living room of junk, two brothers enter in disgust. The house smells of trash and cat urine. In quick succession the seed of the story is planted. This G*d Damn House has been foreclosed and the brothers must clean it out before 9AM tomorrow, 14 hours later.

The brother Danny, played by Gabriel Rysdahl in the leaner role, is confused and frustrated with the state of his childhood home. Jacob is played by Kirk Gostkowski who surprising, understated, and fantastic. Danny and Jacob both discover and reveal more trash and information the deeper the piece goes, but Jacob is given more depth and Gostkowski burns slowly until he hits the wall and goes ballistic.

Sachi Parker, Kirk Gostkowski and Gabriel Rysdahl (photo: David Zayas Jr.)

Their mother Angie (a great turn by pro Sachi Parker) is passive aggressive and a self-delusional liar. Angie is in denial about nearly everything concerning her family. She is surprised that the house is in foreclosure, she claims to have made every payment. She counts on the love and support of her sons, which she raised well and single handedly after their father left – she believes. Angie explains to the boys, repeatedly, that everything must be put in storage, and nothing left behind. Everything in the home is critical to her life. Joining this trio is Angie’s Teacher’s Aid Hannah (well played by Rica De Ocampo). Hannah stops by to help with the packing, stepping out to check on her grandmother every now and then.

Angie’s latest complaint is that Jacob and his wife Ally (Christina Perry in a small but pivotal role) will not divulge the sex of their baby. Angie blames this on Ally. In fact, Angie tends to blame Ally for nearly everything that went wrong in Jacob’s life. This is just another of his mother’s constant digs that Jacob takes.

Gabriel Rysdahl and Rica De Ocampo (photo: David Zayas Jr.)

This G*d Damn House takes a traditional family story and turns it into a hilarious, scathing, and moving story of family dysfunction and the lengths we go to keep our family intact. The house here is full of trash and secrets, the trash being moved and the secrets flowing out with nothing left to hide them. Each brother responds to situation differently.  Danny is shocked by the state of the house and by their mother’s manipulative personality. But he has always kept Angie at arm’s distance and lives in New York. Angie’s quirks and disappointment are simply background noise to Danny. Jacob, on the other hand, has been the one helping his mom consistently. He and his wife live close by and Jacob is familiarly immune to the drama Angie causes. Normally.

The play is refreshing for anyone whose home life was bad, but not “chockfull of drama” bad. This G*d Damn House is full of the small lies we tell ourselves to get through life. Life can be hard and heartbreaking, but it is the only life we know. Playwright Matthew McClachlan has dissected this home life of Angie’s, finding the truths and emotions lying dormant. Director Ella Jane New gives life to a great story told on a small stage. The show brings claustrophobia into even sharper relief in the smaller theater.

This G*d Damn House
Playwright: Matthew McLachlan | Director: Ella Jane New | Cast: Sachi Parker, Kirk Gostkowski, Gabriel Rysdahl, Christina Perry

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