Ever since doing scene work for The Shape of Things, I've had a soft spot for Neil LaBute, who wrote it, and Frederick Weller, who played "my" part in the movie (and was much better than me). In a Dark Dark House reunites the two for a ninety minute tale of brothers at odds over childhood abuses and adult revenges, and also adds the sweet Louisa Krause, and the smarmy Ron Livingston, whose adorable befuddlement channels very well into the asshole legalese he's given here. Director Carolyn Cantor draws a lot out of the actors, but she also encourages LaBute's exclamatory sloppiness: his need to explain (like a mustached villain to his tight-wearing nemesis) every act of meanness. Luckily, Weller's transformed himself into such an upright yet brutish mid-Western realist that the play maintains a level of subtlety (especially in Weller's sudden dead eyes) and even a glimmer of insinuation. Ultimately, the characters are manipulative, not the play, and the final twists are as well-earned as LaBute's reputation as a prolific playwright.
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