Wednesday, May 16, 2007
In a Dark Dark House
Anyone who has seen a play by the ultra-prolific Neil Labute knows the basic setup of all of his works: introduce characters, mix in some tension and then throw in a (usually predictable) eleventh hour twist. His newest misanthropic dramady, In a Dark Dark House, deviates from this familiar pattern, introducing a shocker rather quickly and letting it lay there for far too long. The audience knows that something else is coming around the corner, and spends the rest of the evening trying to figure out what the playwright has up his sleeve. Fortunately, it gives us something to do other than pay attention to the baffling action that's happening on stage. I'm often a defender of Labute's style, but there is very little that anybody could positively spin here; it feels like something that was thrown together in a few hours, with little conflict and even less resolution. One bright spot, though: Frederick Weller turns in an intensely vivid performance as a man out to right a wrong committed against his brother (a disappointing Ron Livingston) when they were children. His surly and often glib line readings (both good things, in this case) fit right in with Labute's elan.