Gaslight House Review – Twists and Turns

Alex Skuby, Nadya Ginsburg, and Sara Maraffino in GASLIGHT HOUSE - Photo by Darren Rafel
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A dark and very quirky comedy written and directed by Howard Skora, GASLIGHT HOUSE is making its world premiere at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. GASLIGHT HOUSE is Skora’s third comedy to debut at the Whitefire Theatre, much to the eager anticipation of his fans. Get ready to hold onto your seats as this wildly eccentric production gallops onto the stage ready to tease and trick audiences at every turn. Just when you think that you’ve tied up all the loose ends, you’re in for surprise after surprise.

GASLIGHT HOUSE Cast – Photo by Darren Rafel

Psychiatrist Ben Soloway (Alex Skuby) is returning to the family home for a sad but necessary chore – he must institutionalize his twin sister Gwen (Nadya Ginsburg), who has apparently gone around the bend. He brings with him his lovely fiancé Melody (Sara Maraffino), who is about to get the shock of her life meeting the Soloway clan, including older sister Amanda (Amy Smallman-Winston), matriarch Edith (Kit McDonough), and Uncle Lucky (Robert Mangiardi), who may or may not be. This just might be the family that nightmares are made of – especially given the family members’ penchant to flirt with the truth in zany and creative ways. For each of them is an expert gaslighter living in the shadow of an eerie lighthouse. And each is a fan of fabrication and insane deception. Is this a family that Ben’s fiancée Melody is ready to embrace as her own? Is this a family which gives new meaning to the term dysfunctional?

Alex Skuby and Sara Maraffino – Photo by Darren Rafel

The play hinges on the mysterious disappearance of Ben’s father years ago. Since then, his mother has become preoccupied with ceramic dolls and plates. Enter Ben’s sister Amanda, who was a child star who dreams of making her current comeback in a pizza parlor extravaganza. Let’s not forget about twin sister Gwen’s expert calm before the sword. Farce mixes with nostalgia; chuckles share the stage with cheekiness. And, above all, playwright Skora’s inventiveness shines. But, perhaps in this case, less might be more.

Alex Skuby, Amy Smallman-Winston, Kit McDonough, Robert Mangiardi, Nadya Ginsburg, and Sara Maraffino – Photo by Darren Rafel

Skillfully directed by author Howard Skora, GASLIGHT HOUSE taps into every Jungian archetype known to man as it wends its way through mazes of confusion, pretzelized twists and turns, and dead ends – quite literally. The talented cast keeps your head swimming with false starts, possible conclusions, and failed attempts by poor Ben to understand exactly what is going on around him. Perhaps we should add failed attempts by audience members as they try to make sense of these nonsensical and outrageous shenanigans. Something is happening, and someone is to blame – but what and who? Kudos to all involved, including the production crew which helps this cryptic tale explode with humor.

GASLIGHT HOUSE runs through June 4, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Saturdays. The Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd., North Hollywood, CA, 91423. Tickets range from $40 to $50. For information and reservations, call 818-687-8559 or go online.


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