LAUREL – “House,” a comedy written by up-and-coming playwright Daniel Johnston and directed by Susan Brall, ended a two-week run until Jan. 20 at the Laurel Mill Playhouse. Based on Johnston’s witty script, he is a playwright to watch in the next few years.
“House” pokes fun at today’s reality shows (such as “Survivor”) and features 10 contestants vying for a 1 million dollar prize and the title of “Leader of the House.”
There is deviousness galore, and the audience is kept busy with tracking the various alliances and who will be eliminated. Throw in some risqué humor, sexual attractions and excellent acting, and House is an entertaining two-and-a-half hour show.
The play opens with contestant hosts Pearl and Onyx Stone (Dr. Reginald Garcon and Melita Bell) revealing the qualities of the perfect contestant.
Each must be sociable, intelligent and excel in physical endurance. The audience is then introduced to the 10 contestants who reveal why they want to win the money.
The 10 are as varied as their reasons for wanting to win, which range from giving to charity to helping their family.
As Andrea, Joelle Denise is excellent as the tough-talking restaurant owner who pairs up with Carlos (Diego Esmolo) to create an onstage chemistry that sizzles in every scene.
Maia Krapcho’s character, Elaine, is sly, hated and void of loyalty.
Shenochia Jordan plays the southern belle, Lucy, who aspires to be a model. As Christine, Kike Ayodeji plays the college student who wants to give away the money to charity.
William Mekelburg plays the calculating Liston who continually shifts loyalties, and Caleb Uzcategui plays the married family man who seems bewildered by the actions of others in the group.
Other cast members include Chris Sisson as Peter, Darwina Metayer as Fatimah, Jen Sizer as Micky, Mary Liberto as the assistant producer and stagehand, and Shawn Fournier as the stagehand and cameraman.
As the plot unfolds, Johnston humorously shows how the natural instinct to survive can drive individuals to bare their darker sides and fling morals to the wind. Brall ably directs, briskly moving the scenes along so that several days in the script are covered in less than 30 minutes.
In addition to writing the script, Johnston designed the costumes. The simple set design was the work of Aaron Brall. That was a first-time collaboration between Johnston and Laurel Mills Playhouse, and it apparently was a win-win for both.