Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Minneapolis/St. Paul

Honey, I'm Home
Open Eye Theatre
Review by Arthur Dorman | Season Schedule

Also see Arty's recent review of The Hatmaker's Wife

Madeline Rowe
Photo by Dan Norman
I do not personally know Madeline Rowe (they/them), but after watching them burn the house down (don't worry, only figuratively) in their one-person show Honey, I'm Home, I know two things about Rowe: that they are extremely funny and extremely brave. Funny, because the hour-long show is a cavalcade of funny routines, witty jokes, cleverly conceived images, and hilariously devised costume and set pieces–all of which Rowe had a hand in creating, along with a cadre of collaborators. Brave because they dish out one bit after another unphased by the fact that not all of the material lands on its feet, and much of it requires the actor to assume awkward and immodest positions. Through it all, Rowe pushes bravely along on to the next bit which, sure enough, scores a bullseye and earns the audience's love.

We take our seats in the cozy Open Eye Theatre and look upon a stage blanketed in green AstroTurf. On one side of the stage is a rolling hill, and atop the hill sits a comfortable, traditional-looking house. Without fanfare, Rowe steps on stage wearing a notably short shift-style dress made of a red-brick prin (where does one find such fabric, I wonder?) and informs us that the story they are about to tell is extremely personal, historically accurate, and perfect. As the model house is hoisted away, Rowe proceeds to transform themself from actor to house, implying that this is the story of their house, and dons a cap shaped like a gabled roof to make the look complete. The house itself gives us a tour of its interior, showing off its assets and trying its best to conceal its flaws.

Oh, but this house is a woeful structure, what with resident mice, a plumbing problem, a gas leak–which periodically punctuates the play–and a ghost with a mysterious French accent. That no doubt accounts for the house having been on the market, unsold, for 87 months. The house desperately scans the classified ads in the newspaper–after giving us an account of the former newsboy, who won the house's heart before meeting a tragic demise that Rowe manages to make into a funny story–and reads all the other houses listings, marked sold, sold, sold ... but the house does not find itself on that list.

It is the day for an open house, stoking the house with great hope that today everything will change and it will once again be occupied. House also hopes that realtor Dan will come through, and finds an audience volunteer to pitch in as Realtor Dan, improvising responses to questions the house tosses at him. Audience volunteers also furnish the sounds of the neighborhood–birds twittering, children laughing, horns screeching–and, in an extremely unexpected moment, one becomes a midwife helping the house, who turns out to be pregnant, to deliver its offspring. Yes, it is farfetched but yields some of the best laughs in a show that is packed with laughs.

There is a water problem in the basement. The house calls in a plumber and takes on the part of a demure, helpless housewife putting all her faith in the big, strong plumber, but the problem exceeds the plumber's abilities and the house has to fend–and plunge–for itself, another chance for wacky and ribald physical comedy. When the house decides that what it needs in order to be purchased is a renovation, it goes full bore into a series of aerobic exercises, backed by an energizing soundtrack, with Rowe offering a great parody of humans working out to renovate their bodies. We finally meet the ghost, which occasions a costume change and switch to a French accent for Rowe, some very funny, low-tech tricks with stage lighting, and my first ever experience in audience participation exorcism, which turns out to be a lot of fun. That's the kind of funny business only a mind like Rowe's could dish up.

None of this amounts to much of a story, beyond a compilation of the ways in which our houses can burden us, and imagining how ae house would feel (if a house could feel) about the situation. If we are despondent that ours is the one house on the market that can't find a buyer, think how the house feels. It is a funny conceit. Cast with a sense of humor that is equal parts silly and deliciously wicked, and a willingness to throw themselves full throttle into the project, Rowe pulls it off. They even manage to land on a tender resolution which I won't reveal, other than to say that a house–like human beings–does well to find love where it can. The lights dim on the house, happy at last, to the tune of what is probably the sweetest song ever written about a house.

Dan Dukich's sound, including very apt musical choices, and Ariel Pinkerton's lighting, which can cast a veil of danger over the humble house, both add heft to this lightweight piece. Rowe and their co-director Michael Torsch have done well to not make Honey, I'm Home into anything more than a lovable, laugh-inducing entertainment, as light and tasty as merengue. Like merengue, it may not offer nourishment, but I have never been one to turn down dessert.

Honey, I'm Home runs through February 24, 2024, at Open Eye Theatre, 506 East 24th Street, Minneapolis, MN. For tickets and information, please visit or call 612-874-6368.

Created and Performed by Madeline Rowe; Co-Directed and Adapted with Michael Torsch; Originally production made in collaboration with Sophina Saggau, Kevin Fanshaw and Emma Gustafson; Set Design: I'm Staying Home, with Madeline Rowe and Michael Torsch; Costume Design: Madeline Rowe and Emma Gustafson; Lighting Design: Ariel Pinkerton; Sound Design: Dan Dukich; House Built by: Fletcher Wolf; Technical Director: Brandon Sisneroz; Stage Manager: Michael Torsch.