Family dysfunction rules in Walters State’s ‘The House of Yes’

Dec. 05, 2013 @ 11:05 PM

In his review of the film version, Roger Ebert wrote that “The House of Yes” exists somewhere between “The Addams Family” and “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

The comparison made Micah Keck laugh.

“It’s about a dysfunctional family who really doesn’t know they’re dysfunctional,” said Keck of “The House of Yes,” Wendy MacLeod’s 1990 play. “They think everything about them is completely normal, but they’re living in their own reality.”

“The House of Yes” is being staged this weekend on Walters State Community College’s Sevier County campus. Keck, a theater major at Walters State’s Morristown campus, is directing.

The darkly comic play, which is set for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 8 in the Conner-Short Center, contains mature subject matter and is recommended for adults only. Admission is free.

“The House of Yes” centers on the Pascal family: twins Marty (Nathan McGhee) and Jackie-O (Kate Doyle), brother Anthony (Luke Walker) and mom Mrs. Pascal (Susan Christophel). Recently discharged from a mental hospital, Jackie-O is obsessed with, yes, Mrs. Kennedy.

The family isn’t close – except that the twins are, you might say, too close. Into this combustible mix Marty brings his fiancee Lesly (Taylor Robinette). Chaos ensues.

Keck, 25, learned about the play from the 1997 film, which stars Parker Posey. “As soon as I found out it was a play, I knew I wanted to direct it at some point,” he recalled. “Turned out, it’s my first.”

It is Walters State’s first student-directed play in recent memory, according to theater instructor P.J. Kent, who normally directs the school’s productions.

“It’s really been an experiment,” said Kent, who teaches at Walters State’s Morristown campus. “This is an opportunity to see how (student directing) works.”

The production lets Sevierville audiences see Walters State theater work. “We’re trying to do a little bit of outreach to other campuses besides Morristown,” Kent said. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how a smaller production would work on the Sevierville campus.”

“It’s a very intimate play, and we couldn’t really do it in the theater at Morristown,” Keck said. “The Sevierville campus has a great space that they’re letting us use. Hopefully they can get more artsy things happening there.”

“The House of Yes” is well-suited for a student director, Kent said. “It’s something that’s long enough for (Keck) to sink his teeth into, but short enough to get in enough rehearsal time for in-depth scene work.”

“You get to see how far you can push the actors,” Keck said of his directing work. “I actually went into the show with different ideas of what the outcome was going to be, but the actors made each character their own. They’ve done an extraordinary job.”

A Morristown native, Keck has been involved in theater since he was 7 or 8. He would like to teach theater after he finishes his education.

Directing “The House of Yes” has been “a great learning experience,” Keck said. “We’ve become sort of a family, so I’ll always cherish this show.”