The Gingerbread House

By Mark Schultz

Directed by James Palmer

At Red tape Theatre, Chicago

“Honey,” he says, “I think we should sell the kids.” – Brian

Implausible comedy of horror shifts tone so often it implodes

Playwright Mark Schulz begins his weird horror comedy with:  “I got an idea,” Brian (Mike Tepeli) says to wife Stacey (Meghan Reardon). “Don’t laugh. We are a little stressed — the money, the kids. I think we should sell the kids.” After a long repetitive coaxing, Stacey agrees; enter Marco (Nicholas Combs) Brian’s co-worker who has connections with a rich barren couple in Albania. After charming Stacey, Marco succeeds in giving the couple a reinvigorated net start in life. I never bought the premise for a moment. As Marco explains:  he is not exactly selling the children; rather, he’s “brokering an offspring exchange.”

The gingerbread house

This preposterous play finds Brian accepting Marco’s help with job promotions, membership in “the Club’ and a spiffy new condo. Marco will do anything Brian and eventually he gets Brian to have sex with him. Ha?

We then see Stacey smoothly up-selling a Caribbean cruse to a customer. Playwright Schulz pushes the “Everything has  price” theme further and further stretching the show’s credulity into the stratosphere.  The story get darker as it depicts Stacey’s guilt and Brian’s psychological dependency on Marco until the couple start fighting.

the gingerbread house

The show tries to make up for the insane  storyline with 5 little girls singing several broodingly dark songs and vivid video backdrops. But nothing can save this preposterous premise.  Self destruction, guilt, and a clueless husband plow through the show until the darkness prevails. We leave the theatre wondering why anyone would produce such a play? It isn’t funny enough nor cathodic enough as a parable; it is simply an unbelievable work unconvincingly acted by Tepeli and Reardon  as Brian and Stacey. The inconsistent tone didn’t help.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: February 9, 2012

For more info checkout The Gingerbread House page on theatreinchicago.com