by Chelsea Marcantel
Cleveland Playhouse March 23 – April 14 2019
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park May 4 – June 2 2019
Director: Laura Kepley. Sets: Arnulfo Maldonado. Lighting & Projections: Elizabeth Mak.
Costumes: Amy Clark. Sound: Dan Perelstein.
Photography: Roger Mastroianni & Mikki Schaffner.
Tiny Houses is first and foremost an exercise on making the impossible possible. In the style of the 1980s rom-com set in the present, our two lead characters Cath and Bohdi leave NYC to move to Portland, Oregon to build a their own tiny home on wheels. What on the surface appears to be a bold move to suck the marrow out of life and take the path less traveled turns into a mess of different priorities and life objectives, as this ill-matched couple attempts and fails to build their house in the allotted 3 months. Enter Ollie, the haunted doll-selling eBay auctioneer, and Jevne, Bohdi’s ex and ASMR artist, and the home-building gets even further derailed.
What this meant for the creative team was the challenge of building a tiny house onstage in the course of the 90-minute play without weighing this witty comedy about finding home down with lengthy transitions. This translated into fun songs, West Coast drizzles that turned into full-blown thunderstorms, projections indicating the passing of the weeks that also danced to the beat, and night-time shenanigans as our characters hurry to finish construction before winter.
As we neared production and the writing settled, most of the scenes became split scenes, with online monologues interwoven with real-time scenes. Jevne does hairbrushing and tells stories to her YouTube followers, Ollie gives advice to his doll-buying clients, and Bohdi as a life coach leads his client on a guided meditation to help her give up smoking. Isolation and the back-and-forth between the analog and digital worlds was a real challenge for lighting!
Look at the finished house though!