Review: The Open House

The Open House; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; $16-$20; $12 on Thursdays. Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036; Through June 24.
Rated 4.0

Will Eno’s The Open House, now on stage at Big Idea Theatre, is familiar, yet different. It’s a drama about a dysfunctional family, but it doesn’t just show how that unhappy tribe self-destructs; it suggests there’s something more.

Janis Stevens provides inspired direction of the script with its hints of Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Edward Albee. Language matters; words hurt; life is impermanent.

Members of a family, identified only by their position in it—Father (the frighteningly authentic Lew Rooker), Mother (the mostly silently suffering Linda Montalvo-Carbone), Daughter (Alexa Slater), Son (Kevin Adamski) and sad sack Uncle (Don Hayden)—are gathered for a celebration.

“Why did I get up this morning?” Father asks. “It’s our wedding anniversary,” Mother says.

“No. That’s not it,” Father responds. Confined to a wheelchair as he recovers from a stroke, Dad is a mean, sarcastic, cruel human being—and always has been. No one’s really happy to be there, and through a series of accidents and happenstances, each gets an opportunity to leave, only to reappear later as different characters, surrounding Father with strangers who confuse the hell out of him as they make a much happier “family” in his home.