Cast size: 2M, 3F
Premiered at: The Magic Theater (1990)
Directed by: Andrew Doe
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The story

"In Wendy MacLeod's obsidian-black comedy, The Pascals, for whom the clock stopped with the Kennedy assasination, are shut in as a Thankgiving hurricane swirls outside. Arriving ahead of the storm's eye are Jackie-O's twin brother, Marty and his fiancee Lesly. The obsessive Jackie is keen to renew her long-running incestuous affair with Marty, which is fine by the mother, who's still lamenting her husband's desertion, and by puppyish younger brother Anthony who immediately desires Lesly. The resulting battle over Marty becomes something of a class struggle between the Pascals' poetic insanity and Lesly's plebian pragmatism." --Steven Mikulan, LA Weekly


"...A fascinating blend of frivolous family politics and menacing political allegory....It is wickedly funny, disturbing and vividly written....MacLeod writes funny, frightening dialogue, and she touches the nerve of our cozy, vicarious involvement with acts of public violence" --San Francisco Chronicle

"Gripping, funny and worth its reputation." --Time Out, London

"MacLeod gets us there with a fertile and original screwball voice that puts her in a league with such erudite young satirists of America's privileged class as Nicky Silver and Richard Greenberg." --Newsday

Author's note

The play started with a particular house, a house I saw in an elegant suburb of Washington, D.C. There was just something about this chic, moneyed house that made me want in. And Lesly begins the play wanting in.

The title came from a graffiti I saw written on a bathroom wall: "We are living in a house of yes." And that made me think about Edgar Allan Poe and pornography and mostly about amorality. The play is about people that have never been said no to. It's about an insularity I see in the upper classes, people who have cut themselves off from the rest of the world and are living by the rules they've invented.

It is a great mistake to imagine the play is "camp" because the characters pretend to be Jack and Jackie Kennedy. To do the play that way is to undermine its emotional truth, and the love, however twisted, between the characters. Mrs. Pascal desperately loves her daughter and is trying to protect her, and the twins love each other deeply, tragically. However to speak of such thinks is "déclassé" and the characters only allow themselves that luxury at one or two points in the play. It is that tension between the Noel Coward veneer and the Pinteresque subtext that makes the play both funny and moving.

Some common questions. What's the deal with Anthony? Why does he do what he does? Perhaps because he truly loves Lesly and shares his brother's longing for "normalcy." Perhaps he's out to finally outdo his older brother. Or perhaps he tears Marty and Lesly apart for his sister's sake.

What's the deal with the assassination game? The construct of the two Kennedys allows the twins to make love to each other. In a blurring of events, they have confused the Kennedys with their own parents and we are merely watching an X-rated version of children playing house.

Finally, who is telling the truth at the end of the play? Did Mr. Pascal walk out on the family or was he, in fact, murdered by Mrs. Pascal? I will only say that every actor must present their character's version with absolute conviction.

Wendy MacLeod
August 1995

Press bibliography

Brantley, Ben. "A Family Worth Fleeing." The New York Times 19 January 1990.

De Jongh, Nicholas. "Family fantasy." London Evening Standard 5 April 1993.

Drake, Sylvie. "Camelot-Gone-Mad in 'House of Yes'." Los Angeles Times 25 October 1990.

Gallo, Clifford. "Perversity Rules The House of Yes." Los Angeles READER 2 November 1990.

Green, Judith. "'House of Yes' skewers hero-worship." San Francisco Chronicle 23 April 1990.

Hemming, Sarah. "Head full of glue." London Independent April 1993.

Ingram, Bruce. "'House of Yes' puts out some creepy comedy." Chicago Sun-Times 20 December 1991.

Kingston, Jeremy. "A family that flips together, grips together. London Times April 1993.

Mikulan, Steven. "Family Affairs: Shattering houses of Yes and Glass." LA Weekly 16 November 1990.

Perry, David. "Would-be Kennedys." Bay Area Reporter 26 April 1990.

Rosenberg, Scott. "There's nothing sacred in 'The House of Yes'." San Francisco Examiner 5 April 1990.

Stone, Laurie. "Twins Speak." Village Voice 1 February 1995.

Stuart, Jan. "Ritualistic Fantasies in a Pink Pillbox Hat." New York Newsday 17 January 1995.

Winn, Steven. "Wicked Take on Kennedy's Killing." San Francisco Chronicle 6 April 1990.


Production Photos
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