Last House written and directed by Alison McElwain, with Oliver Dennis, Margot Dionne and Michael Simpson. Presented by Dorothy Said Theatre at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). Runs to April 17, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm. $12-$25, Sunday pwyc. 416-538-0988. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
On a surprise visit to her family's house in the Canadian wilderness, Leah Larch ( Tricia Lahde ) discovers she's not the only one with a secret. Her entire family is telling lies, playing tricks and acting guilty. Anyone from a dysfunctional family can relate to Last House .
As in a good TV sitcom, the Larches live out ridiculous scenarios while pretending to be normal. One member schemes to bomb the neighbour's beaver dam. Another pursues a neighbour who's mourning his dead wife. Playwright/director Alison McElwain' s double entendres and creative stage direction kick the humour up a notch.
When Leah's father ( Oliver Dennis ) runs around the forest in his underwear while son Peter ( Jody Hewston ) follows him covered in plastic, it gets some laughs. It's also funny to listen to mom Ellie ( Margot Dionne ) maniacally natter and avoid all serious questions.
But when deeper issues of communication, trust and disappointment arise, the play stumbles. Small holes in the script, staging mishaps and inconsistent characterization expose too many weaknesses. Still, convincing performances by Dennis and Hewston carry us back into the comedy comfort zone, where we can roll our eyes at these family tics once again.