Twisted sister, Kennedy obsessions fuel pitch-black comedy 'House of Yes'
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Family drama gets sticky — and more than a little icky — in the black comedy The House of Yes.
The play, written by Wendy MacLeod and turned into a cult classic film in 1997, imagines what happens when a perfectly normal young woman has the utter misfortune of getting engaged to a man from a howlingly horrifying family. It will be staged at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Nov. 18 and 19 at RR Bar, 701 S. Georgia St. Tickets, which can be purchased at the bar, are $10, and seating is limited.
"They're a very rich family in Washington, D.C., who talk about ... being above everything," director Dani Enriquez said. "People in their situation think the world is there for them, that they can do whatever they want."
That mirrors the author's own thoughts about the play: "The title came from a graffiti I saw written on a bathroom wall: 'We are living in a house of yes'," MacLeod writes in her author's note accompanying the script. "The play is about people that have never been said no to. It's about an insularity I see in the upper classes, people who have cut themselves off from the rest of the world and are living by the rules they've invented."
As a hurricane rages outside the Pascal family's Virginia estate, son Marty (Cody Johnson) has brought his new fiancée, Lesly (Jesse Neel), home to meet his family — his widowed mother (Kayla Fuller), his younger brother Anthony (Cliff McCormick) and his twin sister, Jackie-O. (Caitlin Campbell).
"He comes home and very quickly remembers how things were, and it becomes very apparent that his new life is going to conflict with his old life," Johnson said. "It's bringing two lives together like a storm front, and that's essentially what he makes — a cluster of chaos."
Jackie-O. — who, as her name implies, is obsessed with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis — is quite horrified by the new arrival, making her recent return from being institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital even more rocky.
"Yeah, it's not good," Campbell said of her character's reaction to Lesly. "It's just like any normal relationship: If you have this person you've been married to for 20 years who goes on vacation and comes back with a new wife — yeah, it's not good."
Marty and Jackie-O. aren't just fraternal twins, you see: They became lovers as teenagers while playing a game inspired by John F. Kennedy's assassination. (I warned you things got icky.)
"I've had my eye on this show for a while," Enriquez said. "I enjoy doing controversial shows, and this is clearly in that category."
Campbell — who recently returned to her hometown after working off-Broadway in New York and on the road with Renaissance fairs — said she's fascinated by Jackie-O.'s insanity.
"Her childhood is not discussed that much in the show, but from what I gather, her relationship with her twin is the least of her problems," Campbell said. "Her father died young under what she considers mysterious circumstances, and Marty, for her, is the one thing she considers stable in her life.
"For her, she has to do whatever it takes to keep that stability with her, and she will do whatever it takes to make sure her rock, her twin, stays with her."
Johnson sees the siblings' relationship as "something that happened between them at a point in their life where they were very close to each other. In my head, they didn't know where they were going, but that's where it went."
"It's weird because Cody and I do look very, very similar," Campbell said. "Sometimes that does get a little weird because we do look like twins."
The alternative theater space in RR's back room is the ideal location for the show, Campbell said.
"There's a very accepting, outgoing audience who comes to shows here," she said. "I don't think anyone will be bothered by the incest or the nudity.
"If anything, they'll be more excited about it, so that will be fun."