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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 16
Just desserts - The Gingerbread House is a spicy, if insubstantial, dark comedy
Arts & Entertainment
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Just desserts - The Gingerbread House is a spicy, if insubstantial, dark comedy

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE
THEATER SCHMEATER
Through April 20


It's a comedy about two selfish parents who sell their children. At least the first act of The Gingerbread House at Theater Schmeater is somewhat comedic and tongue-in-cheek. But it darkens as it goes along.

A capable cast, directed by Julia Griffin, takes on this uneven script by Mark Schultz and perhaps makes it better than it was written. Sara Coates and Tom Dewey are a striving duo - Stacey and Brian - who have gotten into a rut. Brian has decided that their kids are holding them back from all they looked forward to in the past and all they want in the future.

He has been lured into this kind of thinking by a co-worker, Marco, with a mysterious power of persuasion, played by Daniel Christensen. At the end of the play, Marco seems revealed as an embodiment of the witch in the woods who lures Hansel and Gretel into the gingerbread house with the intent to kill and eat them.

YUPPIE WANNABES
Schultz's play is broad strokes: Brian clearly wants things - expensive toys, a beautiful high-rise apartment, membership in the 'club.' And the second act displays those things as hollow and not providing the happiness that Brian is seeking. While in the first act the couple's marriage is solid, by the second it is deteriorating and on the verge of failing entirely. It's probably a bit too obvious.

It is also an extreme example of selfishness as the parents make money selling the children, who are vaguely promised that they will go to a childless couple in Albania who will indulge them with a lavish lifestyle. This happens very early in the play, with very little resistance to Marco's scheme. What really happens to the children? We never find out.

It's also fairly stereotypical to have Stacey, as a mother, be the one with the most regrets. Again, the broad strokes don't tell us much. But Coates is a talented actor who brings a lot of depth to this shallow role. Another aspect that enhances the production is the set by Michael Mowery, always meticulous. The apartment design is not so unique, but 16 different framed 'pictures' on the walls are actually video portals with projections allowing for complete visual changes of scenery. It's a great effect.

Another excellent technical support is the eerie sound design with original compositions by Jesse McNeese. Atonal and sometimes rhythmic accompaniment enhances the mood of the scenes with subtle infusion.

If you like absurdity and edgy comedy with a very dark lining, you may well like this production. It won't bring any additional understanding to any issue, but it's got interesting moments and capable performances. For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or call (206) 324-5801. Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/309455 or 1-800-838-3006.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.

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