A bitter real estate feud fuels the hilarious hijinks within Brian Parks’ kooky 2014 one-act comedy “The House,” currently receiving an outstanding Midwest premiere at the Loft Theatre courtesy of the Human Race Theatre Company.
Sharply staged with sitcom-esque flair by Margarett Perry, “The House” is a funny yet often uncomfortably nasty look at humanity at its worst. Martyn and Shanny Redmond sold their lovely dream home (attractively designed by Ray Zupp) to overeager thirtysomethings Fischer and Lindsay Libett, but are terribly concerned when the Libetts reveal their desire to make some previously unannounced home improvements. The Redmonds simply can’t fathom the idea of their history being destroyed for the sake of a breakfast nook among other questionable plans. In turn, absolute chaos erupts into a full-throttle tailspin ranging from outlandish accusations and hurt feelings to the mutilation of a large teddy bear (one of Heather Powell’s many great props including an asbestos-ridden pipe).
Thanks to Perry’s wonderfully crisp pace and character-conscious direction, Parks’ rapid fire dialogue doesn’t drag. Plus, the Race has assembled an exemplary quartet who gives their all to a deceptively demanding play that requires total physical commitment. Race resident artists Caitlin Larsen and Scott Stoney are delightfully compatible as the emotionally conflicted Redmonds, happily married but unable to let go of the things they believe their lives are built upon. Zany and unhinged, Larsen is a joy to behold. Due to her incredibly astute portrayal, it’s apparent long before the final seconds that Shanny is an unstable force to be reckoned with. Stoney’s role isn’t as showy as Larsen’s, but he enjoyably conveys Martyn’s sensible nature, especially his knack for mediation, as situations spiral out of control. Dynamic duo Vince Gatton and Alex Sunderhaus are also perfectly cast as the Libetts, a pair of go-getters who have a lot to learn about compromise. Gatton, a New York-based actor/playwright whose promising new play “Wake” was featured last summer in the Dayton Playhouse FutureFest, terrifically reveals the privileged ugliness festering within Fischer’s personable aura. Sunderhaus, spinning comedic gold even when walking across the stage to obtain keys, effortlessly delivers one of her finest performances, particularly as the seemingly conservative Lindsay becomes increasingly cutthroat and loosens her inhibitions in the process.
“The House” could be considered a glorified “Saturday Night Live” sketch, but it’s an unforgettably wild ride with surprisingly thought-provoking undertones. Climb aboard, hold on tight, and watch the insults fly.
“The House” continues through Nov. 19 at the Loft Theatre of the Metropolitan Arts Center, 126 N. Main St., Dayton. Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm. The play is performed in 90 minutes without intermission. Tickets are $40 for adults, $37 for seniors and $20 for students. Prices vary depending on performance date and seating location. There are a limited number of $12 and $25 side area seats available for each performance. For tickets or more information, call (937) 228-3630 or visit humanracetheatre.org or ticketcenterstage.com.