Review Roundup: ONE HOUSE OVER at Milwaukee Rep
The Reviews are in for Milwaukee Rep's World-Premiere of Catherine Trieschmann's ONE HOUSE OVER, which opened February 27th and will run through March 25th.
The Creative Team: Catherine Trieschmann (Playwright), Mark Clements (Director), Kevin Depinet (Scenic Designer), Rachel Laritz (Costume Designer), Jesse Klug (Lighting Designer), Joe Cerqua (Sound Design / Original Composition), Brent Hazelton (Production Dramaturg), Abigail Gonda (Dramaturg), Frank Honts (Casting Director), Elissa Myers, CSA and Paul Fouquet, CSA (New York Casting), Karie Koppel (New York Casting Associate), Kimberly Carolus (Stage Manager), Rebecca Lindsey (Assistant Stage Manager), Melia Gonzalez (Stage Management Resident), and Sophiyaa Nayar (Assistant Director).
For tickets and more information, please visit www.milwaukeerep.com.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Mike Fischer, Journal Sentinel: Let's cut to the chase, with three of the many reasons to see Catherine Trieschmann's "One House Over," the best of the 10 world premieres at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater during Mark Clements' eight years as artistic director (Clements also directs this production). First, it takes on the thorniest of current political issues - immigration - in ways that are provocative but not preachy. Second, it's laugh-out-loud funny, as was clear from watching Friday's opening night audience. Third, Clements' magnificent five-actor cast expertly mines the subtext of a play that's also about being lonely and isolated in a divided America.
Dominique Paul Noth, Urban Milwaukee: For two hours and 45 minutes we have what I call a two-drink play. It will be easier to swallow the looser the mood of the audience and the more they're attuned to sitcom development, an "All in the Family" modernization. In that vein, patrons will take much of the proceedings with a friendly spirit in admiring the playwright's gift for a social zinger. But director Clements has not helped the actors bring more to the performances than they came in the door with, for they are experienced stage and TV imports who know how to hold a look or drop a laugh-line over the shoulder. To connect the people as genuine characters from moment to moment, that is a different problem and they seem on their own. There were many places when the interchanges could have been polished and even shortened so that the unlikelihood of the proceedings didn't stick out at us. There were sections when the actors were still struggling with how to pace the obvious laugh lines with the internal justification.
Kelsey Lawler, BroadwayWorld: One House Over smartly addresses timely issues with quiet honesty, revealing American immigrants' struggles, hopes, and fears through heartfelt dialogue. There's nothing heavy-handed here - just a couple of people getting to know one another. Jacoby and Garcia play off each other brilliantly, breathing easy life into Trieschmann's very believable characters. The character of Joanne is equally convincing, as is Camila's also-undocumented husband, Rafael (Justin Huen). Joanne has all the hallmarks of a progressively-minded, Chicago-area, Obama-loving, occasional-pot-smoking, middle class white woman - and yet it's surprising where the journey of One House Over takes her. Joanne's evolution is rather sobering in its realism. Her life has been a privileged one, and for all her good intentions, one wonders if she will ever truly see past the end of her nose. On the flip side, a smaller but deeply effective part, played by the remarkable Jeanne Paulsen, is that of Patty, Joanne's stereotypically nosy neighbor. Patty initially appears deeply ignorant, rude, self-serving, and not unlikely to attempt to oust the undocumented Hernandez family. Paulsen plays the part of the witchy neighbor with such glorious disdain, it's fun and illuminating to watch the way in which her character evolves.
Harry Cherkinian, Shepherd Express: The riches in this play can be found in the talented ensemble of actors, who make us forget they're "acting" given their naturalness within the backyard beauty of Kevin Depinet's classic bungalow setting: Zoe Sophia Garcia (Camila) and Justin Huen (Rafael) define these roles and play extremely well off one another; Elaine Rivkin (Joanne) gives us glimpses of her inner life as needed and Mark Jacoby is sheer perfection as the cranky Milos, making us still like him, despite his nasty pranks. Jeanne Paulson is fascinating to watch as neighbor Patty, her laser like focus commanding the stage in her "take no prisoners" approach.
Dave Begel, Dave Begel on Theater: This cast was up to the task facing them. The range of emotions faced by each was filled with potential potholes. Ms. Rivkin was alternately grateful, guilty, exasperated, fearful, jealous, lonely, afraid and angry. Ms. Garcia was plucky, in love, passionate, encouraging, angry and fearful. Mr. Jacoby is angry, helpless, hopeless, encouraged and determined, Mr. Hernandez is cocky, discouraged, full of bravado and resigned, And MNs., Paulsen is both arrogant and lonely. All of them are also faced with lots of funny lines and the timing in this group is perfect. A big part of that timing is a credit to Mr. Clements, who guides this production with a fine and loving hand.
Louis Weisberg, Wisconsin Gazette: Trieschmann's social critique is spot-on and packs a wallop, but it's the play's excellent storytelling and surprising hilarity that make it a sure-fire hit. The opening-night audience lapped up the comedy with relish. Despite the play's wrenching ending, the post-show crowd at the elevators were still laughing as they talked about the play's many funny moments. Just one critical note: Trieschman occasionally hammers the "meaning" of a scene with an unnecessarily heavy hand - as if to avoid losing the gravitas beneath the humor. That might be worth a second look as the play continues forward in development.
Gwen Rice, On Milwaukee: As Camila and Raphael, Garcia and Huen are the heart of the play. Their struggles to get ahead and thrive in spite of stifling prejudice mirror their complicated conversations with each other. Both actors are masterful in their code switching - presenting different personas depending on who they interact with - and Camila's growing discomfort in the house clearly reads in her body, increasingly stiff and weighted down as she moves purposefully across the yard. As Joanne, Rivkin is the least sympathetic character. She also seemed to have trouble filling the Powerhouse vocally. As the grumpy and failing Milos, Mark Jacoby provides most of the comic relief in the play. Relieved of his senses of propriety, his character is refreshingly honest - and base - about his needs. But his joy at opening a birthday present from the one member of the "family" who adores him is palpable. A bit sing-songy in his delivery, Jacoby occasionally comes off as a mischievous European troll, but his moments of emotional clarity are worth it.