The Open House – Will Eno
The Open House is the second production in the Ustinov’s Atumn season of UK premieres. Here the former Artistic Director of the RSC Sir Michael Boyd directs a superb cast in this ascerbic, complex and disturbing play.
The original production of The Open House won many awards including the OBIE Award for Playwriting.
Eno’s play is a subversive and painfully funny depiction of the archetypal family drama. A son and daughter have returned home to celebrate their parents wedding anniversary, things are strained and the dog has gone missing. Then the play takes a sharp turn into unexpected territory.
Greg Hicks is outstanding as the Father who has suffered a stroke which allows him to verbally shred his family in to pieces. None of them are named but each of them suffers his contempt and brutality. Teresa Banham is the maligned mother whilst Ralph Davis and the excellent Lindsey Campbell are their children. Add into the mix the ever present Uncle played by Crispin Letts and the recipe for a family disaster is all that seems to be on offer. However, the play turns whether to suggest that not everything is what is seems, that perhaps behind closed doors the happiest families behave differently or that the next generation have the option to heal their parent’s mistakes.
It is thought provoking and challenging. It also is unresolved which allows much food for thought.