Ringwald’s ‘The House’ is a home for laughs
FERNDALE, Mich.–If laughter is what you crave, then head to The Ringwald in Ferndale to see The House, a one-act comedy with a small cast that shows just what people are capable of when their buttons are pushed.
Running under 90 minutes and without intermission, The House (written by Brian Parks and directed by Kelly Komlen) moves along at a quick pace and feels essentially like one extended scene, with all four actors on stage nearly the entire time. The story is also rather unencumbered by complex moral lessons and metaphors. It is quite simply a meeting between two couples that starts out innocently, then devolves into hysterical madness.
Dentist Martyn (Jerry M. Nehr) and his stay-at-home wife Shanny (Sue Chekaway) are empty nesters that have decided to sell their family home and downsize into a condo. Lindsay (Erin Hildebrandt) and Fischer (Andy Reid) are the young, professional couple who have bought the house, eager to make it their home and start a family. All the documents have just been signed, and the couples celebrate with a few drinks at the house; both couples seem excited about the transition. Shanny and Martyn soon begin wandering down memory lane, and when it comes time to physically hand over the keys, they don’t leave Shanny’s hands very willingly.
Lindsay steps into risky territory when she mentions that they are planning to make some “small changes”—repaint some rooms—before moving their things in, and the discomfort is immediately apparent for Shanny and Martyn. Lindsay tries to change the subject, but when Fischer lets it slip that they are planning more extensive renovations than painting, Martyn and Shanny take it as an insult of their beloved home, and things go off the rails.
Shanny insists they have made a mistake and they will not let Lindsay and Fischer have the house, but Lindsay and Fischer are technically the new owners already. As they fight over the house and try to kick each other out, the real insults start flying as they argue about which pair is the “perfect” family for the home. The scene gets physically (and hilariously) heated when someone knocks out a tooth, and cherished sentimental objects are defiled and broken. Just when they seem to be getting a hold of themselves, a final act of spite denies both couples the satisfaction of victory.
The humor in this show (and there is a lot of it), comes through various devices: the subtle sarcasm and asides in the script; the body language between each couple, the things that are hinted at then left unfinished, the physical comedy that escalates in its zaniness. The strength of the cast cannot be overstated here; the seamless pace of the lines thrown back and forth, the jabs and retorts, cutting each other off, hushing each other up, playing off each other’s expressions, all point not only to solidly rehearsed timing but also unqualified cohesion.
There are some brief moments of adult sexual humor and a few uses of mild language, so this show should be considered PG13.
The House is playing at The Ringwald Theatre through April 22, 2019.