theatreCorpus, last week at The Independent Eye


Talk about an unreliable narrator!

Victor (Trey Lyford), the sole character in Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor's one-hander, House, spends much of the action talking about sitting in a chair in a church basement with his creative therapy group, led by "Mr. 'Call me Joe' and I won't call him Joe."

Victor is, he explains, fucked up (as distinguished from weird: "you're born weird; you get fucked up"). And, in an endless torrent of words over the course of the 60-minute tirade, he tells us how he's fucked up: his mother is possessed by the devil; his father works as "the world's saddest man" in a circus sideshow; his sister dances with her dog in an apartment filled with copulating canines; he's married to his third cousin, who resents his job as an office worker in a septic-tank cleaning business; and he's in debt to his eyebrows in order to renovate his house in time to have his boss over for dinner.

He rails. He yells. He throws chairs. He rolls a tiny invisible ball between his fingers. He imitates a bagpipe playing "Amazing Grace." He acknowledges that he's in a theater ("I know it's a theater; I know this is a stage; I know it's a light; I know it's a? house"). He sniffs the audience to see if we're ashamed of our body odor.

He talks. And he talks. And he talks - eager to justify himself, eager to please us, eager to cancel out his pain, like a Catholic bishop annulling marriage ("He says the word, and it didn't happen"). And he tells short fables about houses - houses that are the site of loneliness, of equivocal human contact, and, ultimately, of a joy so great that the occupants explode from it.

Lyford is energetic, impressive, completely convincing, and, like the script, relentless and unbearable. Kevin Moriarty directed.

-Cary M. Mazer