This G*d Damn House – A Machiavellian Mom
Hoarding disorder is an ongoing difficulty throwing away or parting with possessions. … (hoarders) experience distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. …gradually keep or gather a huge number of items, regardless of their actual value…often creating extremely cramped living conditions with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. The Mayo Clinic
“Jesus Christ, Jacob, why didn’t you tell me it got this bad?” Danny (Gabriel Rysdahl) has flown from Florida to New York to help his brother Jacob (Kirk Gostkowski) clear out mom Angie’s house. After numerous warnings of foreclosure she denies having received, eviction will occur in 14 hours. Angie (Sachi Parker) is a serious hoarder. The place stinks of cat piss. Everything is filthy, piled high. What comes into this house never leaves. David Henderson’s excellent set makes one itch.
Jacob, a former actor now wedding photographer and family man, visits his mother several times a week and must have seen the accumulation. He regresses to a child in her imperious presence. Though he’s rented a truck and a motel room for Angie, Jacob never corrects her assumption that everything will move with her to his home. Pregnant wife Ally (Christina Perry) has tried in vain to wean her husband of blind obeisance. Unable to sleep, she arrives at 3 a.m. to offer at least moral support.
Sachi Parker (Angie)
Danny, a successful playwright, clearly hasn’t visited in some time. When the older brother went away to school, Danny was left to cope with their volatile, divorced mom. Recollections chill. It’s no wonder he hasn’t been home. Also intermittently present is Angie’s devoted ex-teacher’s aide Hannah (Rica de Ocampo).
Motor-mouth-pity-me Angie is oblivious to anything but her agenda, but she is their mother, so both sons hang in as lies are exposed and history rears its ugly head. Detente might’ve been offered were it not for Angie’s venomous speech to Ally.
The play needs editing. Peeling away of Angie’s deceptions works well. Someone with this degree of the syndrome, however, would likely have a more agitated, if not panicked, reaction to things being moved, life upended. Angie is too calm.
Kirk Gostkowski (Jacob), Gabriel Rysdahl (Danny)
Overstuffed with exposition, This G*d Damn House lags in the hands of director Ella Jane New. It makes no sense for people to stand around talking with an imminent deadline. At the least, packing should continue during most dialogue. That extremely small, flimsy garbage bags are often employed is unlikely. When Danny and Hannah meet, awkwardness and silence are so jerky, it seems as if Rysdahl has forgotten his lines. Nor do I understand the source of or reason for intermittent music from another room. Final confrontation, on the other hand, is a directorial high point.
Sachi Parker, Shirley MacLaine’s look-alike daughter, doesn’t inhabit Angie until part way into Act I. Warmed up, she becomes a riveting presence. The speech to Ally arrives as if out of Greek tragedy.
As Ally, Christina Perry is pitch perfect. We believe every word. Kirk Gostkowski offers a solid Jacob. One can almost hear a voice at the other end of a telephone call. Freeze frames processing Angie’s insistence are extremely effective.
Gabriel Rysdahl (Danny) and Rica De Campo (Hannah) contribute yeoman performances.
Photos by David Zayas, Jr.
Opening: Sachi Parker, Kirk Gostkowski, Gabriel Rysdahl
This G*d Damn House by Matthew McLachlan
Directed by Ella Jane New
Through April 8, 2023
312 W. 36th Street, 4th Floor