Sunday, March 9, 2008

Open House

A while ago I blogged about an amazing experience Todd and I had at Etiquette. This Saturday, he and I took in the latest Foundry Theatre production, Open House. Open House is a much more traditional play than Etiquette, the twist this time being location. Each performance takes place in a different apartment somewhere in the city. The troupe is hitting every borough (yes, even Staten Island!) with the audience, which was somewhere around twenty-five people at Saturday's performance, sitting on folding chairs, the host's furniture, and pillows on the floor.

The first two-thirds of the play was both good and somewhat expected. We followed a young couple from their first awkward date through many relationship struggles, multiple moves ("I can't believe we ended up somewhere further out AND smaller!"), and an ever-changing New York. Some of their dialog felt freakishly familiar, making me think that my apartment is bugged or some of the conversations Todd and I have are pretty universal.

The second part of the play is arguably why the theatre company chose to perform in private homes (though, really, I think they liked that it was free). We, the audience, is attending an open house in a futuristic New York, damaged beyond recognition by climate change, raising tides, and human-brought destruction. A third character is trying to sell us a home in the up-and-coming, soon-to-be-revitalized community he represents. Obviously the global warming aspect was extremely topical, but what I really liked was the sense that even the apocalypse wouldn't change the New York housing market. Prospective buyers now are faced with guessing which neighborhood will pop next and how long they'll be waiting for a Whole Foods to appear. This was more of the same on an extreme scale and well done.

While the performances were good (except for the real estate salesman: he was good but sweating so profusely that I got seriously distracted), the play over all didn't take advantage of the inherent uniqueness of their setting. On the one hand, it's surely hard to play specifically to your space when that space changes for each performance. But on the other hand, what's the point of touting your play as being so uniquely placed, if you don't take advantage of that?

This wasn't as good as Etiquette, but I am interested to see what Foundry produces next. I like the risks they're willing to take, even when they don't completely pan out.