“Open House” Review by Rose Desena

This Week in Theater    

World Premiere


                           “Open House”

 Written by Shem Bitterman

Review by Rose Desena

A distraught loser and a psychotic loner meet in an open house living room somewhere in Los Angeles where houses are under a million. Martha (Ava Gordon) is looking for a house to buy and Chuck (Robert Cicchini) just happens to have one that’s perfect for her, if he can convince her.  Shem Bitterman (Writer) brings these two lost souls together in a way that is believable but leaves the audience a little short on answers.


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Chuck is trying to rekindle a relationship with his family, after some very difficult times. The phone conversations that we hear throughout the play are all one- sided so we are left on our own; the only thing that’s clear is everyone seems very angry at him.  This leaves one with the burning question, where have all the understanding families gone? Is that out like flip phones? Poor guy, the only time the phone rings is when someone wants to kvetch at him.


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Martha suffers from a deep loss and a bad ex-husband so she is just the perfect friend for Chuck. By that I mean they can get drunk and complain about their screwed up lives and then have a much needed roll on the bare floor (don’t worry there are no live sex acts in this). However, there is a rather interesting scene with a wall, no it’s not a typo, I am not going to spoil it for you so that’s all you’re getting.  Martha’s phone never rings but one can tell by her demeanor she is a little on the warped side.


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There are two lessons here, that if these two had any sense at all they would have gotten the message and headed for the hills.  One should never trust anyone who says “You do trust me” and “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned”.  I don’t know about women’s scorn although I have been known to go over the edge at times. But the Trust Me thing, that’s a given, honey.  Hello Martha!


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Eve Gordon and Robert Cicchini are brilliant and really make the production a joy. They share great chemistry and fill the stage with raw emotion, the stage set was excellent and the directing worked with one exception. The opening scene dragged and lacked the mark I needed to introduce me to Chuck. It’s always hard to know what’s going on in the mind of a writer. From Bitterman’s post –play conversation he liked the vagueness of it. He certainly embraced the fact we were taking about it.  I like that myself and I did have a conversation about the end at dinner with the guest I brought along.  But I still think the script could use a little re-write. The twist leaves us surprised and there is strong conflict but the script could use a better flow and the ending leaves everyone with the same complaint which was brought to the writer’s attention by some at the party.


I commend the Skylight for its commitment to expanding the LA theater community with new and interesting work.  Although this production has some flaws I think it has real potential and is certainly worth seeing.


                            “Open House”

Written by: Shem Bitterman

Director: Steve Zukerman

Cast: Eve Gordon, Robert Cicchini

Runs Friday and Saturday @ 8pm, Sundays 2 and 7 pm Closes August 25th

Skylight Theater Company, 1816 ½ N. Vermont La, 90027 – http://skylighttheatrecompany.com/

 3 Roses Rating





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