Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Review of Housebroken

by Matthew Falduto

Iowa City - Of all the theatre adventures an actor could embark upon, a solo show is perhaps the most daunting. One of the most wonderful aspects of acting is its collaborative nature. When you're acting with someone, you get to feed off of their energy, build a scene together, connect in a way that 'real life' does not always allow. A solo show is completely different. You are on your own. Every eye in the theatre is on you the entire time. It takes guts, incredible stage presence, and endurance. Fortunately, Iowa City is lucky enough to be home to a shining solo star - Megan Gogerty. Her newest show, Housebroken, premiered last week at Riverside Theatre.The opening night performance was a joy to experience, filled with humor and a witty examination of some of the foibles of our lovely city.

In Housebroken, Gogerty shares with us her family's experiences selling and buying a house. From searching for the right house to finding the right realtor to tolerating the nosy neighbor, the show is full of funny moments that build an engaging story. Gogerty is simply a fantastic storyteller, with impeccable comic timing. From the first moments of the show, she engages the audience. In a solo show, that's so important. The audience interaction keeps the momentum moving and Gogerty understands when to let us enjoy the moments and when to move the show forward. There's a certain stand-up comedian element to the show, but Gogerty elevates it to a full theatre experience by creating multiple characters, a clever use of the set, and, of course, that humorous story.

The main supporting character of the show, the realtor Chet, is performed wonderfully by Gogerty. She creates the well meaning, if somewhat obtuse man all of us have encountered many, many times in Iowa City. My favorite supporting character, however, was the nosy neighbor. Gogerty's use of a higher pitched voice and the choice of physically elevating that character helps to create a hilarious busybody. I only wish I had seen more of her in the show.

The highs and lows of moving is a universal story, Housebroken is also a witty examination of the culture of Iowa City. Gogerty exposes the east-west divide, jokes that all of the North Liberty homes come with a trampoline in the backyard, and bares our Hawkeye mania for all to see. This makes the show even funnier for those of us that live in the area, though I wonder how well some of it will play in other parts of the country when this show goes on the road.

It's hard to know which decisions were Gogerty's and which came from the mind of director, Alexis Chamow, but smart choices were made throughout the show, and director and star deserve kudos.The set is familiar to anyone who has ever moved - boxes, boxes and more boxes stacked all over the stage. These are used in shrewd ways to create different scenes. At the back of the stage, in the center, boxes create the impression of a doorway, for instance. At one point, a box opens up to display a Hawkeye man cave in all its glory. Toward the end of the show, a box transforms into a home. The simple and effective set adds much to the show.  

If you're looking for a enjoyable evening and are ready to laugh until your stomach hurts, don't miss Housebroken at Riverside Theatre. It runs for through April 26. Tickets are available here.

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