Saturday, April 26, 2008
"Oh oh. Oh no. Here he comes!" says John Calvin Kelly, the electrifying actor taking on the role of Victor in Daniel MacIvor's one-man show, House. "He's ruining everything! I thought this was a PLAY! Stop! Stop!" Standing in the narrow aisle of the Red Room, surveying the audience and acknowledging the theater itself, John is stripping away the artifice of the show, and with that, he succeeds in removing the artifice of character, thrilling us with a performance that never seems forced, even at its most abstract. (Metaphors are literal to our "fucked up" narrator: his mother is possessed by the devil, with "eyes the size of turnips"; his father runs a circus act in which he's "the saddest man in the world.") As John speaks, he pulses with all the barely repressed rage at the idiocy in Victor's life, building up the walls of his house (HOUSE!) before hitting the next part: "My calming action," he says, ". . . used to be counting to fifty but it took TOO GODDAMN LONG!" Fritz Brekeller is a confident director, which means he lets John go out on a limb, but never so far that it snaps. It also means the focus stays on Victor's quest to find a place of his own: ignored at work, despised by his wife, and ridiculed at group, his life is unremarkable, to the point where "See ya tomorrow," "Call ya Friday," and "Wanna go for breakfast" seem poetic, for it "might not sound like poetry but it does if you never heard it and I never did." In the finest moment, Victor describes the only award he's ever won: first as a fantasy, then as it actually was, settling for each flaw with an increasingly bitter "Fine." Septic salesman or not, that's a lot of shit for one man to suck up, and kudos to John for keeping it all in with a slowly cracking grin.