The company of HOUSECONCERT (photo by Hunter Canning)
by Joey Sims
A harried man in an ill-fitting suit stumbled into The Brick. Crashing through the front door, he seemed initially like a vagabond stealing into the theater. Indeed, the box office volunteer jumped up to intercept, before receiving silent assurance that he was in fact part of the show.
The man plopped down next to me. “Have you ever heard of telepathy music?” he asked. Nope. He gestured at everything happening around us. “Do you know what this is?” Definitely not.
Experimental company Object Collection has transformed The Brick into a madhouse of assorted knickknacks, like six different living rooms all happening at once. (The tremendous design is by Peiyi Wong.) The audience sits on either side, most in comfortable armchairs. As you enter, the company is lounging around. Some are identifiable from their absurd get up (mismatched shoes, jackets two sizes too large, a Seinfeld puffy shirt). Others look “normal” enough – maybe that one is a stage manager? Never mind, now she’s playing the drums.
The first section of HOUSECONCERT is just the cast messing around freely in the space. They do magic tricks, play piano with a curtain over their face, rearrange furniture at random. It’s delightfully freewheeling, like joining a party at that perfect vibe point when everyone is just the right amount of drunk or high.
When the concert element starts up, the show becomes less engaging. The songs are intentionally loud and monotonous, which proves tough to take. (Earplugs are available upon entry.) It is admittedly fun to watch the non-musicians build a complex framework of strings across the room, yelling instructions at each other over the music. But it also becomes tempting to just zone out.
Then again, maybe zoning out is okay. The show ends with two performers sitting opposite each other at a table filled with lamps, turning them off and on while yelling numbers at each other. If the first section of HOUSECONCERT is that high point of the party, maybe its final scenes are the late-night turn into the absurd and bizarre, when nothing really makes sense and everyone should have long since headed home.
By Object Collection
Written & directed by Kara Feely; composed by Travis Just
May 5–27, 2023
The Brick, 579 Metropolitan Ave.