Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Tiny Houses
Cleveland Play House
Review by Mark Horning | Season Schedule

Also see Mark's review of Gloria


Peter Hargrave, Kate Eastman, and Nandita Shenoy
Photo by Roger Mastroianni
Cath (Kate Eastman) quits her high pressure, and high paying, job in finance in New York City to travel to Portland, Oregon, with her boyfriend of four months, Bohdi (Peter Hargrave), to build a "tiny house" on a 400 square foot trailer (roughly 26'x16') in Bohdi's best friend Ollie's (Michael Doherty) backyard just outside the city. Ollie makes his living selling haunted dolls online. Bohdi's childhood sweetheart Jevne (Nandita Shenoy), who still carries a torch for Bohdi (Bohdi was her first "everything"), makes her living as an ASMRtist (autonomous sensory meridian response artist), helping half a million lost souls find peace and tranquility through her podcasts. Add to the mix an actual experienced building contractor, Jeremiah (James Holloway), who in the course of fixing the multitude of errors in the construction falls for Cath. What could possibly go wrong?

This is the gist of Chelsea Marcantel's delightful comedic play Tiny Houses, now on stage in the Outcalt Theatre at Playhouse Square in its world premiere production by Cleveland Play House. Chock full of wonderfully strange characters in a unique situation, it is about the consequences of making rash decisions that will affect the outcome of people's lives.

The most fascinating part of this production is that in a mere 90 minutes (no intermission), the exterior of an entire two-story tiny house is built in front of your eyes. All the while, in the story, the builders have to deal with numerous delays, weather, mistakes, and each other.

Kate Eastman is superb as Cath, brimming over with self-determination on getting the house completed no matter what and making it a home. Peter Hargrave is convincing as Bohdi, an easily distracted man/child who flits from passion to passion, never resting long in one spot. Michael Doherty, with a wonderful accent ("I'm from South Africa, thank you!"), is a bundle of perpetual motion and does his best to keep everyone pleasant. Nandita Shenoy is Jevne, a multilayered new-ager all pig tails and wildly colored outfits and leggings. She uses cuteness as a weapon to win back the man she lost. James Holloway as Jeremiah (the only one with a normal name, according to Cath) goes from hired consultant to friend to companion in easy transitions.

Special mention must be made of the additional carpenters who are part of the building magic that goes on. They include Cayla DeStefano, Andy Rowlan, and Kaleb Yandrick and they contribute loads of work during the brief between-scenes pauses.

Although quite predictable, this sweet comedic tale of attempting to simplify one's life has a lot of heart. It truly is a labor of love that will enthrall you and make you smile with its happy conclusion. Fill the seats for this one.

Tiny Houses, through April 14, 2019, at Cleveland Play House, Outcalt Theatre, Playhouse Square, 1501 Euclid Ave., Cleveland OH. Tickets may be purchased online at www.clevelandplayhouse.com, by phone by calling 216-241-6000, or by stopping by the Playhouse Square box office located in the outer lobby of the State Theatre.


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