BWW Reviews: Check Into the HOUSE OF YES
Snippets of commercials and bygone television shows played throughout the thirty minutes prior to curtain. Cast upon draperies, the images were often distorted, seemed to be surrounding what a televised family life should be - all before ending with scenes from the day when President Kennedy was assassinated.
The distortion of an idyllic family life followed by a day that will remain forever etched in the minds of Americans is fitting for a family that cannot see beyond their own familial unit.
House of Yes by Wendy MacLeod follows an affluent family that seems to have a lot of secrets. Twins Marty
and Jackie (referred to as Jackie-O) are uncomfortably close, younger brother Anthony is socially stunted, and mother Mrs. Pascal lives under the understanding that "children just happen." Unwilling to admit their own faults, the four must exist in 1983 although it appears that daughter Jackie cannot escape 1963.
It examines what the world is like in a household where 'yes' is always the answer.
Evidenced by the large, empty frames hanging in the living room, audiences are sure to know that this family is not normal. It is as if they do not even have a past to look back on.
Jenny Maahs is a terrifying Jackie-O - Terrifying in the best possible way, Maahs' understanding of the text is apparent. Not only does she resemble former first lady Jackie Kennedy when clad in her iconic pink suit, but her playing at maniacal naiveté is chilling. Although audiences cannot trust or understand her motivations, they are still drawn into her innocent side. As if being told "yes" her entire life has left her forever stuck in adolescence where nothing has consequences, one never quite knows if Jackie-O is playing a part or simply living her life. Maahs is able to convincingly lie her way through the story only to drive at a point made by the playwright, "who is telling the truth at the end of the play?"
No surprise for KRASS, a women's theatre, another lady in the cast really strikes a chord. Sarah Whelan as Mrs. Pascal is frustratingly brilliant. Her over dramatic nature creates some of the dark comedy but also reiterates how her family unit is unabashedly fictional. Oftentimes appearing as though she has emerged from one of Jackie-O's soap operas, Whelan plays the part of silent onlooker well. Her demonstration of the fact that mothers see all is chilling. She sees, but does not interfere. After all, they'll never be the Kennedy's.
Director Jan Levine Thal is quite right in saying "the play is not an easy play" in her director's note. It's not easy because it affronts the American family dynamic. It crosses so many boundaries that audiences often aren't sure whether laughing is cruel or warranted. Most of all, it reminds those who view it that no family is even remotely perfect.
House of Yes is a dark reminder that "everyone has secrets."