In a Dark Dark House

A.R.T./New York Theatres Gural Theatre, Manhattan

How dark is it? We’ll let you know!

By Andrew Andrews

Neil Holland and David Beck star in Neil LaBute's In a Dark Dark House by Knife Edge Productions at the Gural Theatre. Original photo by Brian Hotaling.

Estranged brothers Terry and Drew have spent two decades coping with the physical and sexual abuse they suffered as children.

Drew has checked into a psych hospital to overcome his substance addiction once and for all, before his wife and kids say goodbye for the last time.

After wrapping his car around a telephone pole, Drew needs Terry to corroborate his childhood trauma to explain—and hopefully excuse—his reckless behavior.

Terry, however, is not so eager to revisit the past that has haunted him for twenty years. Always struggling to make sense of what’s happened and its impact on his current behavior, Terry appears to be the strong, silent type, but is always just one false move away from diving off the deep end.

In a Dark Dark House pulls you in from the get-go and doesn’t release its grip until the black out after the final scene.

On a sparse stage before a wall plastered with blood red scratches that scream of child abuse, the brothers sort through their sordid past alone for most of the story, save a troubling scene between Terry and a fifteen year old girl.

If you’ve followed my reviews for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I generally prefer plays with larger casts and more elaborate set design. In this case, however, I feel that the minimalism of each scene helps focus our attention on the details of the discourse and the intensity of the situation.

Except for a moment when one of the actors forgot a line, the cast played their parts well, and an instant where the subtle sound effects are intentionally cut off deserves mention for its timeliness.

The house in this tale is long gone by the time the show starts, but its darkness looms on, and it will follow you out on your way home from the theatre.

Andrew Andrews attended In a Dark Dark House at A.R.T./New York Theatres Gural Theatre in Manhattan on Sunday, December 8, 2019 @ 2:00pm to write this review.