Smile Politely

The Open House opens the Station’s season

Will Eno’s The Open House is a modern family drama that premiered in March 2014 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va. It is the winner of the 2014 Drama Desk Special Award, the 2014 Lucille Lortrel Award for Outstanding Play, and the 2014 Obie Awards for Playwriting and Direction.

Deb Richardson is the director of the Station Theatre’s production, starring Lincoln Machula (Father/Charles), Jeff McGill (Uncle/Brian), Nancy Keener (Mother/Melissa), Evan Seggebruch (Son/Tom), and Annie Roach (Daughter/Anna). The Open House will run tomorrow, October 1, through Saturday, October 17.

The play presents its audiences with questions about traditional family dynamics and if much has changed over the years. In terms of the set, costumes and props, the play seems straightforward and simple; however Richardson believes that this — along with her directorial style — is a good thing: “I believe in simply playing the material, which, when simply presented, will leave the audience to draw their own conclusions.”

And yet, the play is anywhere near straightforward, as Richardson explains. “Without giving the play away,” she said, “the story ends up completely different from where it begins and different from what you might expect. People will recognize these characters, although perhaps a little exaggerated, as someone they know.”

Because we can all relate to a little family dysfunction every now and then, right?

Richardson says the cast and crew has been great. “It’s always difficult to put up the first show of the season as it’s done on quite an abbreviated time schedule. And everyone has worked very hard at their respective positions,” she explained.

“The cast really gets these characters,” Richardson says. The Father’s character, which the play appears to revolve around, might remind some of The Death of a Salesman, but they should not be fooled. The fact that the play “deals with themes of mortality and a father who treats his family deplorably” Richardson said, is where the similarities stop. Instead, she feels the play is more accurately described as an “existentialist version of All in the Family.”

For those who would prefer seeing another family struggle instead of their own (or not), there is still more to enjoy. Eno has been described as “a master of language,” Richardson explained, so there is plenty of “sharp dialogue [and] quick wit” to go around.

“If you like absurd, a little bit dark, and sometimes hilarious family dynamics, you will like this show,” Richardson promised, “and the absurd situations will leave you wondering, ‘What just happened?’”

Catch the performance during October 1-4, 7-11 or 14-17. All shows are at 8 p.m., and weekday shows are $10 while weekends will run you $15. Free parking is available across from the Station Theatre, which is located at 223 N. Broadway in Urbana. Reserve tickets online or call 217-384-4000.

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