Actors Workshop Theatre presents: ‘The Open House’

If you think your family is dysfunctional, this production may make you feel better

When it comes to family, sometimes it takes perspective to understand how truly lucky we are. The Open House, a new production by the Actors Workshop Theatre, offers audiences a unique opportunity to see this principle play out.

The Open House tells the story of a family living in a dysfunctional home gathering to celebrate an anniversary. Then, for one reason or another, each character leaves the house to run errands or take care of emergencies. Gradually, they are replaced with new people, a nuclear family who tries to buy the home during an open house. As the play progresses, the cold, dysfunctional family is replaced by a warm, loving family.

Five actors play the ten characters in the production, each assuming two roles: one dysfunctional and one healthy. “It’s an interesting process, especially with the characters of Uncle and Brian,” said Lukas Lochrie, one of the actors. “They’re just complete contrasts of each other [and] I believe that’s the intention with a lot of the characters in the show. Uncle is this depressive, very melancholic man. Brian … is the kind of person where someone would spit on him, and he [would] thank them. He’s happy-go-lucky; nothing can keep him down.”

“During the rehearsal process, all the actors make different choices for their characters, and they stick with them, or they make changes,” said Oscar Kolotylo, Stage Manager of TRU’s Actors Workshop Theatre. “[They] make these choices that differentiate between the characters they play. So far, everyone has been doing amazing with the differences between their characters.”

Kolotylo said The Open House allows the actors to take advantage of their range, indulge in their creative freedom and form their characters’ personalities and mannerisms.

“The whole practice period up to the first show is six weeks, I think,” said Lochrie. “At the start, it would have been extremely difficult for me, but as we’ve continued, it’s much easier now. I go off [stage], do some breathers, readjust my stature, how I walk, and everything, ‘cause it’s a complete transformation, and I come back on [stage] as a new character, a new man.”

“This production offers a very challenging position,” said Lochrie, “where there is no intermission. It’s just one long production, so you’re on stage almost the entire time. I don’t switch characters from act one to act two. I get ten, twelve minutes, maybe less, to completely switch costumes, switch characters, and adopt a new strikingly different personality. It’s hard, but it comes with the position of being an actor, so it comes [to me], I’d say, quite naturally.”

Get your tickets at the box office or online for The Open House, performed by TRU’s Actors Workshop Theatre from Nov. 16 to 18, and Nov. 23 to 25.