Left – Genevieve Giuffre and Benjamin Rigby (background Anna McCarthy). Cover – Genevieve Giuffre and Benjamin Rigby. Photos – Sarah Walker
The House of Yes, by US writer Wendy McLeod, was made into a film in 1997. Little Ones Theatre stage their own version of the play at Theatreworks, making for a superb marriage of company and text. Set in the 1980s, The House of Yes sees Marty (Benjamin Rigby) bringing his fiancé, Lesly (Anna McCarthy) home to meet the family. A hurricane is expected and the play makes full use of pathetic fallacy (where weather conditions symbolically reflect the dramatic human goings-on), as Marty’s mad twin sister ‘Jackie O’ (so called because of her obsession with the former First Lady) newly home from a psychiatric hospital, isn’t about to let him go. They have a history. Younger brother Anthony (Paul Blenheim) upon meeting Lesly forms an agenda of his own and keenly takes advantage of the growing ‘situation’. Added to that it’s Thanksgiving.
The House of Yes affords Little Ones all the possibility of playing with the conventions and markers of American family culture, of subverting familiar tropes, gestures and the mores of middle-class life, in a concentrated lush style that is entirely their own. With their particular aesthetic, Little Ones Theatre presents a vivid and campy theatrical extravaganza which captures the essence of aspirational North America while looking quite a lot like Rocky Horror. It’s hard not to compare the wonderfully looming and overbearing Josh Price as Mrs Pascal with the great character Riff Raff.
Genevieve Giuffre is just fabulous as a performer, she’s huge and mesmerising in everything she does. Her increasingly unhinged ‘Jackie O’ is just as good as anything else she’s done. The set of The House of Yes sits in a sinister light a synthetic neon glow, all glitz and coldly pink; both lighting (Katie Sfetkidis) and design (more remarkable work from Eugene The) deserve a special mention. Direction is appropriately pacy. The House of Yes is a tightly performed, well delivered piece and offers satisfying entertainment, but it is just that – professionally realised amusement. Nothing shocking or ground breaking here; no doubt when the play was first performed in the States it would have seemed outrageous, tying up as it does the assassination of JFK with an incestuous liaison between twins. The House of Yes sits nicely in the current trend of highly accessible, hugely enjoyable camp and artifice that queer theatre brings to Australian stages.
Little Ones Theatre in association with Theatre Works present
THE HOUSE OF YES
By Wendy Macleod
Director Stephen Nicolazzo
Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Dates: 27 November – 13 December, 2014
Times: Tues - Sat 8pm (Preview 27 November 8pm)
Tickets: $30 – $25
Bookings: 03 9534 3388 | www.theatreworks.org.au