Monday, October 26, 2009

An Act of Creation - "The House Can't Stand"

A simple one - meditating on and putting into words thoughts on the show I absorbed last night.

"The House Can't Stand," written and performed by Steve Epp and directed by Dominque Serrand, was both a romp through the mind of a wife left alone to her house by a deceased husband and relocated children as well as a stringing together of several politically-minded theatre happenings. Visually, each individual picture the show created (down to the sock on the legs of the table in the set) was brilliant. Yet, those pictures were created from and motivated by both intense characterization and the abandoning of such a labor.

The two artistic minds behind the show created an utterly fascinating character whose actions were equally as fitting later on in the show as they were unexpected at the beginning of the show, speaking to the cultivation of a personality intensely interesting enough on its own. I do not say 'enough' to suggest that such a thing should be left as is when it can be further developed by a fitting storyline or creation of a series of images, but rather to underscore the importance of letting a solid character hold it's weight. I felt that the weight the character created initially was made less so by the amount of randomization that came to pass within the second half of the 'storyline.'

I am also not trying to suggest that any 'good' show MUST have a solid, follow-able storyline; I am simply saying that a very clearly defined character, such as the aging housewife in this play, should be allowed to pull it's weight, and should not have to knock fists with numerous storylines for attention.

At the same time I pull down the value of having too many random things going on, I would like to boost it back up in the fact that the idea and execution of 'happenings,' can be very intriguing by themselves. Transitions from the side of a far-off road to a Hooverville-style tent encampment to the tent of Abraham Lincoln and back again to the suburban house where we started was interesting enough in itself, but my interest was hard to maintain as I tried to sort out the relevance of it all to the character that was earlier on in the play so strongly developed.

In a nutshell, I highly enjoyed the visual and movement aspects of the show - I'll get so specific as to say that I was pre-occupied in a good way by how the character's left leg stayed more straight than the right, even creating an interesting physical profile for how she approached the situations in which she was put. Additionally, I was quite taken by the character created, and the ridiculously witty and relevant one-liners tossed. I just wish the journey I followed her on had a bit more clarity.

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