THE HOUSE IN SCARSDALE: A MEMOIR FOR THE STAGE

The Theatre @ Boston Court
Pasadena

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As Tolstoy said “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In The House in Scarsdale, playwright Dan O’Brien traces the roots of his family’s particular unhappiness to learn why his parents and siblings cut him off years ago. The more Dan learns about his family, the more mysterious the circumstances surrounding their estrangement become, until his world is shaken when rumors surface that his real father might be another member of the family. Ultimately, Dan must decide if his pathological pursuit of the truth is worth the risk or should he follow the advice of a psychic and make his life a never-finished work of art.

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"The House in Scarsdale is an excellent play. Not easy to come by, not in this town, and this production proves a point, actually: in the theater, anyway — as is also true with poetry and prose (not so much in movies and television) — you can actually do a lot with a little. You must only stay true to your vision (in this case, two actors, two chairs, two screens); you must only establish the rules of the game (no sets otherwise, or costumes, or props); then, most important of all you’ve got to have faith, not just in the play itself but in the audience’s imagination and willingness to play along. And so they do — we do — to our enormous satisfaction and delight."

"That Michetti has so remarkably cast this production is a blessing. As the current-day version of the playwright, Brian Henderson exudes his creator’s curiosity and frustrations with a grounded believability even when the piece incorporates sequences of presentational surrealism."

"Without much action or stage design, director Michael Michetti gives his two actors room to draw the pictures the audience needs to understand and empathize with the characters. Everyone is enveloped in agony and yet Michetti doesn't allow that sadness to weigh down the piece. He brings the absurdity and the humor to the forefront. With a bare set, Tom Ontiveros' projections become the third performer. Utilizing realistic and abstract visuals, Ontiveros transports the actors to multiple locations."

"The House In Scarsdale: A Memoir For The Stage will likely send audiences on their own personal journeys down memory lane. It is Los Angeles intimate theater at its challenging, rewarding best."

"The text itself is a dense poetic piece of storytelling with Irish-American trappings. It elicits a kind of sorrowful laughter and will resonate with anyone with a troubled personal past."

"There is no doubt that the production is splendid, or that the script is articulate, complex and compelling."

"Under super-director Michael Michetti’s guaranteed inspirational guidance, poet-playwright Dan O’Brien courageously pours out the greatest and most debilitating mysteries that haunt his own life: the alienation and shadowed secrets protected within the tightfisted grasp of his incredibly closemouthed and majorly dysfunctional family. O’Brien eventually leaves us hanging—just as life often does to us all as we are pulled and jabbed and spun uncontrollably by the fickle finger of fate around this puzzling planet of ours. Yet, what he thinks he needs to know about life and the invisible brick walls that seem to hamper him in the creation of his art and in his daily life don’t resolve with much concrete satisfaction, but in the process, he learns a more important lesson: to accept what you’re handed out and do the best to turn what you’re given into something positive you can share with others. They don’t call us “tortured artists” for nothing."

"Director Michael Michetti moves the action from one disconcerting tete-a-tete to the next seamlessly, at a bracing pace. Elizabeth Harper’s lighting and Tom Ontiveros’ dreamlike projections, a mixture of photographs and line drawings, economically establish time and place, leaving us free to focus on the lyrical, authentic dialogue."

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