The House That Will Not Stand -- Interesting but Jammed Packed
By Karen Isaacs
Yale Rep's final play of the season is a world premier: The House That Will Not Stand which has promise but tries to do much too much. As sometimes happens with new plays, the author Marcus Gardley has jammed packed it with plot, ideas, philosophy so that it is difficult to decipher what is truly important.
The House That Will Not Stand is set in New Orleans in the 1830s. The society is changing; for years there were many free people of color who lived openly in society with few restrictions. Many white men had second families with women of color and these women inherited property. But by the 1830s, this was changing to disinherit these second families.
The play tells the story of Beatrice whose white lover has died. She wants to protect her three daughters from her life as a mistress -- though two of the daughters want that life. In the days following the lover's death all sorts of secrets are revealed. It may sound simple, but Gardley has added in mysticism, a murder or two, poetry, as well as references to women's rights and other issues that did not come to the fore for generations.
It is clear he has been influenced by August Wilson.
The cast is excellent, lead by Lizan Mitchell as the mother. The costumes and sets are also great. But the symbolism is obvious and there needs to be some sharp pruning of the script.
The House That Will Not Stand is a sometimes fascinating look at unique part of America and a world that was changing. It's at theYale Rep through May 10.
This review aired on WNHU 88.7fm