A blissfully domestic sitting room in a nameless American suburb is the setting for Brian Parks’ riotous comedy The House.
Utterly brilliant theatre.
We open as two couples arrive fresh from their lawyer’s offices following the completion of the sale of the house from one couple to the other. They trill excitedly about how perfect the neighbourhood is and the wonderful time the new owners will have in their new home; the dialogue batting between each of the four characters faster than an Olympic ping pong match.
The humour is subtle at first. Frankly you need time to catch up with the breakneck speed of the sparkling script. But then the first innocent insulting faux pas begin to appear. Vendors Martyn (David Calvitto) and Shanny Redmond (Pauline Goldsmith) mercilessly berate estate agents before Fischer Libett (Oliver Tilney) reveals his brother is one. Fischer’s wife Lindsay (Alex Sunderhaus) looks at a photo of the Redmond’s daughter on the side table and exclaims how marvellous it is that Down's Syndrome hasn’t stopped her attending college, but of course she hasn’t got Down's (although Martin thinks she may be a lesbian).
The chatter is achingly saccharine until Fischer lets slip that they’ll need to make some alterations to the kitchen, extending over Shanny’s beloved garden and the grave of their family pet. The descent from this point is flat out hilarious, ending in what I can only imagine is a Stage Manager’s nightmare of a clear up job.
Parks’ incredible script is matched by Margarett Perry’s exquisite direction and sublime casting of four actors who had me gasping for breath as the comedy built and built and then built some more.
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of comedy drama, but I think this is one that I’m going to remember as a favourite for years to come. Utterly brilliant theatre.