A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Gaslight House,” written and directed by Howard Skora, produced by Bryan Rasmussen, extended through June 25 at Whitefire Theatre.
I’ve only recently come to understand the term ‘gaslight,’ thanks to my kids, of course. It’s a lie, a ruse, a deception with a means to an end, a way for those with an agenda to twist or totally invent a truth to their own ends. “Gaslight House” is a play about exactly that. A family full of gaslighters who, in the end, must all face the mirror of their own misdeeds. Yet, all in the most hilariously disturbing and entertaining way.
I have seen both Howard Skora’s previous shows at the Whitefire theatre, “Miserable with an Ocean View” and “Damaged Furniture.” And, I loved them both.
Mr Skora is a perceptive and stimulating writer. He takes ‘normal’ and elevates it. Giving us insight and context and a window into lives we might regret being witness to, were it not for the purpose of a play.
These folks are wacky, looney. They elevate your pulse and make you feel a lot more thankful for your own boring brood. But, the story is the star of this particular play. A psychiatrist and best-selling author travels to his childhood home with the goal of committing his twin sister, who has always been ‘out there,’ but has recently gone right off the rails. When he arrives he find a household in much more disarray than he expected, and as the play unfolds and everyone’s versions of the truth unravel, perception and reality turn upside down.
“Gaslight House” is wonderful. The performances are utterly brilliant and the connections between the characters sublimely portrayed.
It’s very tricky to create a real sense of family on stage when the audience is well aware that everything is an illusion. The kicker here is that the on-stage family is also somewhat of an illusion, so the layers of what is real and what is surreal mix and merge and undercut each other. We are left with a purposeful and rather vertiginous feeling somersaulting around in our brains. It’s a whodunit. Without us quite realising that there’s is a ‘who’ to be done. And with everyone manoeuvring around each other, sisters and mothers and uncles and fiancés until we aren’t quite sure of anyone’s real motivation.
It’s also very, very funny and the actors have created these lovely, quirky, impatient grumpy souls who just work so perfectly together. I absolutely loved it.
For the last couple of years of covid, Mr Skora has been workshopping and developing this play with the wonderful people at The Actor’s Gym at the Whitefire Theatre, run by Bobby Moresco (Academy Award winner for “Crash”).
So there is a fabulous sense of camaraderie, and this sort of sixth sense between all the actors that only occurs with this kind of immersion in a writer’s world. The results are excellent. Insightful, dramatic, hilarious, studied, perceptive and thoroughly entertaining.
“Gaslight House” is running on every Saturday night from now until June 4, so you have no excuse not to book your tickets! I highly recommend that you do! The Whitefire Theatre has been a mainstay of theatre in L.A. throughout the pandemic, thanks to everyone who works so hard there,. But mostly to Bryan Rasmussen who has fearlessly pushed on when others might have thrown in the towel. I’m so thankful that he did! Bravo!!
Alex Skuby, Kit McDonough, Amy Smallman-Winston, Robert Mangiardi, Sara Maraffino and Nadya Ginsburg.
Running April 1 – June 25, Saturdays at 8pm
135000 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91423