Curtain Call’s Tiny Houses Constructs a Home and a Life
Chelsea Marcantel’s Tiny Houses is a one-act comedy with a big heart. Bohdi is a life coach. Jevne is a YouTube artist. Ollie sells haunted dolls online. Cath just left her job to move to Oregon with her new boyfriend. And they are all building a house together in the backyard. Jeremiah is the only apparently down-to-earth, sane one on the stage. He is the contractor whose going to guide the construction to completion. As the dwelling comes together onstage, tensions swell, discoveries are made, and long-buried feelings rise to the surface.
Curtain Call Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director Carol Max has taken the helm to direct the inaugural production of the 30th season. She has assembled a cast of Curtain Call alums to herald the new season. David Quinones Jr. is Bohdi, the life coach who may have motivations other than love to get his girlfriend, Cath (Elizabeth Pietrangelo), to make the move from Manhattan to Portland, Oregon. Or perhaps we are giving him more credit than he deserves. Quinones handles the part with a smooth demeanor, maybe chasing a dream he is unaware he wants. Pietrangelo is the pivotal character on the stage. She is the angst, the anguish, and the motivator searching for something, but what? Will a 200-square-foot tiny home be the answer to that which she is searching? Is happiness as easy as paring down “things” and living off the land? Having just gone through the epidemic of the past few years, the themes of the play seem more timely than ever.
Alex Perone, the sweet Ollie from…well, everyone appears to be afraid of asking where he is from so as not to insult him…is busy selling haunted dolls, is bothered by very little and is more than happy to have the construction go on in his yard. Perone is wonderful to watch. His comic timing feels so natural and perfect for the character.
Sarah Wasserbach’s Jevne may in fact be less naive than she would like you to believe. Wasserbach’s innocence may be just a facade for what lies inside, like the siding on the tiny house. JJ Buechner as Jeremiah is perfectly level-headed and willing to sublimate his feelings so as not to upset the status quo. He offers a strong calming influence over the characters as he goes about his business.
The characters have all been perfectly cast by Max. Her stellar direction leads them beautifully through the complex maneuvers of love, jealousy, laughter, and tears. Each time you feel everything is as it should be, Max manages to get a little extra something from her performers that jolts the audience.
Throughout this entire 90-minute production, we are witness to something quite magical. The cast actually constructs a tiny house on the stage. We watch walls, flooring, roof, and eventually, lights and a window box appear before our eyes. Real tools and a certain amount of ad-libbing contribute to the construction of the house. Peter Max has done an amazing job of creating a deconstructable house that can be assembled and disassembled performance after performance.
Frank Oliva’s set design, Lily Fossner’s lighting, Rebecca Gardner’s prop design (how often is that something ever called out in a review?) and Beth Ruman’s costumes all bring together Oregon on the stage of Curtain Call Theatre.
In the end, the audience is forced to look at life, love, what we need vs. what we want, and with whom we wish to share that love and life. Tiny Houses will have you laughing and mesmerized by the on-stage construction. A very interesting start to what promises to be a very exciting 30th year at Curtain Call Theatre.
For ticket information call 518-877-7529 or online at www.curtaincalltheatre.com Tiny Houses plays through October 9. Masks are required for all performances.