Gracie Watt / Hilltop Views
Hyde Park Theatre gifted viewers with the magic of theatre from the comfort of their own homes on March 26 with their revival of the 1998 Frontera @ Hyde Park Theatre production of “HOUSE.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hyde Park Theatre held a livestream on their YouTube channel instead of gracing us with their presence on stage.
The play brings upon a unique feeling of yearning for the comforting, accepting shelter of a theatre while simultaneously giving audiences the feeling of sitting front row, anxious for the show to start. “HOUSE” allows us to leave the tight and crowded constraints of our own home and enter the home of our leading man, Victor.
We follow Victor, the only character in this biting play, as he gives us a tour of the foundation of his home, both literally and figuratively. He takes us through his life, his daydreams and his desires, revealing an incredible vulnerability.
Victor’s stories about his relationships reveal that human beings are weak. They’re inherently bad and act in their own self-interest. But they’re also smart and know how to protect themselves, which is what makes people so interesting. In his stories, there is no real bad guy, only bad things. “HOUSE” plays with ideas of good and bad and how neither can fully define a person, only their actions can do so.
We’re taken through the complexity of family and relationships and love and learn how these three are separate, but also intersect. Life is just a matter of navigating these things presenting choice after choice after choice. And no choice can be a mistake; every detail is essential. As if it were what Victor calls an “accident of fate,” life continues without a second thought.
The performance of the one and only Ken Webster is incredibly raw and honest. We see the beautiful, ugly, messy complexity of human nature. At one moment, the audience was crying. I cried. At another moment, we were uncomfortable in our seats, even while seated on the most comfortable La-Z-Boys of all La-Z-Boys.
The amount of emotion on and off the page is incredible, and no one could do it better than Webster. There are moments where he is laughing, moments where he is shouting and moments where he is so angry, it made us nervous.
“HOUSE” provides a safe space to explore the feeling of yearning. And isn’t that so fitting? Sure, we’re not all currently processing an affair or rethinking our relationship with our mother, but we’re all experiencing something incredibly dreadful. We want to be somewhere else, and we wish things could be different. It is comforting to know Victor is in that same headspace, even if these are completely different situations.
Because Hyde Park Theatre didn’t get the standing ovation it deserved, I’d like to give a couple of shoutouts to playwright Daniel Macivor, shining star Ken Webster, light designer Don Day, sound engineer Robert S. Fisher, set, costume and props designer Leroy Sakowitz, stage manager Pearson Kashlak, technical director and set constructor Zac Thomas and, finally, video producer Eric Graham.
At the end of the play, Hyde Park Theatre displayed the message, “We will get through this.” And we will. We’ll get through this and all come together soon enough, as long as we stay apart for now.