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The House review at Assembly George Square, Edinburgh – ‘quick-fire, hyper-stylised delivery’

Pauline Goldsmith, David Calvitto, Oliver Tilney and Alex Sunderhaus in The House. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge Pauline Goldsmith, David Calvitto, Oliver Tilney and Alex Sunderhaus in The House. Photo: David Monteith-Hodge
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American Absurdum returns with all its trademark incision and quick-fire, hyper-stylised delivery in The House, a fable of modern middle-class America.

Empty-nesters the Redmonds (David Calvitto and Pauline Goldsmith) are celebrating the sale of their beloved home with its new owners, the newlywed Libetts (Alex Sunderhaus and Oliver Tilney). All is well in their little lives, Brian Parks’ dialogue bristling with self-congratulation and back-slapping until the Libetts carelessly let drop that they have changes planned for the house.

Margarett Perry maintains her tightly surreal direction for much of this, allowing individual acts of violence – both vocal and physical – to ramp up the tension. But it becomes needlessly, almost self-consciously wacky, when it descends into total violence and loss of control.

Calvitto, a past master in this form, is a joy to watch, although Goldsmith is the revelation here, holding back an edgy calm. Oliver Tilney takes pomposity to the next level, but Alex Sunderhaus needs to be more glacial if she is to match Parks’ writing of the tightly wound Lindsay Libett.

There is much to enjoy here – and a message about continuity in society for those that want to see it – but it tries just too hard to make itself funny, when it was funny all along.

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Tight comic fable unwinds as it tries a shade too hard to be funny