Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

The House of Yes
Custom Made Theatre Co.
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's review of Breeders

Casey Robbins and Caitlin Everson
Photo by Jay Yamada
Custom Made Theatre, now in its 18 season, is committed to producing plays that awaken our social conscience and focus on the strength of the ensemble, and creating an intimate theatrical experience. The company is presenting Wendy MacLeod's black comedy The House of Yes, subtitled "A Suburban Jacobean Play." It's been around since 1990 and was made into a film in 1997 starring Parker Posey and Josh Hamilton. In fact, it appeared here in April 1990 at the Magic Theatre.

The House of Yes is amusing, outrageous, impertinent, a little unsettling, and streaked with satire. This is the most dysfunctional family since Long Day's Journey Into Night. It touches on madness and incest with heightened dialogue.

We meet the prosperous Pascal family living in McLean, Virginia. They live by their own set of free-spirited, even dangerous rules. It's Thanksgiving some 20 years after JFK's assassination and there is a hurricane raging outside.

Arriving from New York are Jackie-O (Caitlin Everson), her twin brother Marty (Casey Robbins), and his fiancée Lesly (Juliana Lustenader). The infatuated Jackie-O is keen to renew her long-running unhealthy affair with Marty, which is fine by their mother (Shelley Lynn Johnson) and naïve younger brother Anthony (Elliot Lieberman), who immediately desires Lesly. This becomes a class struggle between the Pascals' elegiac folly and Lesly's realism. It's as the Los Angeles Times said, "Camelot-Gone-Mad."

Stuart Bousel has assembled an excellent cast of five actors to perform this one-act black comedy. Shelley Lynn Johnson plays matriarch Mrs. Pascal skillfully, with a snooty coyness when she introduces Lesly to the grown children: "This one has blue eyes and that one's insane." She states, "All I know for sure is that Jackie and Marty belong to each other. Jackie's hand was holding Marty's penis when they came out of the womb." Elliot Lieberman beautifully performs Anthony's ineptness with effortlessness.

Caitlin Everson is absolutely fantastic as Jackie-O. She plays the role with a devilish abandonment. Casey Robbins gives an impressive performance as Marty. He plays the role with a submissive charisma. Juliana Lustenader as Marty's girlfriend Lesly gives a wonderful grounded sense to the role.

Costume designer Kathleen Qiu has designed chic costumes, especially Jackie-O's wardrobe for several scenes where she is dressed like Jackie Kennedy. Zoe Rosenfeld has gorgeously designed a well-heeled living room set. Direction by Stuart Bousel brings out the best in the cast. His direction is fast paced.

Bottom Line: As the San Francisco Examiner said of this 90-minute play, "There's nothing sacred in The House of Yes." I enjoyed the no-camp comedy with its clever writing.

The House of Yes runs through April 29, 2017, at the Custom Made Theatre, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. Tickets can be obtained by calling 415-798-2682 or visiting