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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
House of Gold
The play opens with Man (Tony Pasqualini) and Woman (Denise Crosby) having a domestic breakfast. Their beautiful six-year-old, JonBenet (Jacqueline Wright) has been groomed to please. Her false smile is plastered on. When late in the play Woman paints the chld's face while alternately encouraging and insulting her, it wrings with a mordant truth.
The Apollonian Boys bring in the mindless children brutalizing childrensub-plot. They wrestle with each other and willingly taking on Jasper (Alex Davis), a little boy who deliberately insults them. He's brave and stands up to the boys for no apparent reason. He interacts with JonBenet on a realistic level, whether dead or alive.
Getting to the dead . . .detective (Keith Arthur Bolden) examines JonBenet's body fulsomely, with no idea where it's going. And Joe (Graham Sibley), the handsome young villain, has a couple of wicked scenes with JonBenet — no touching but the intent is clear. Grandpop (Melvin Weiss), a distant figure bundled up in the attic where JonBenet goes to cuddle in his arms, is a dream of comfort.
The only scene this reviewer had real problems with was when JonBenet unzips a man's pants on her knees. To use her as a fantasy figure is one thing but to give her actions for which there is no basis is quite another.
The character of JonBenet is grotesque. She defines the title as follows: "Grown-ups are like unicorns. There is no such thing. Everyone stays young forever. No one ever dies ---- in a house of gold." While Wright is a fine actress the director's choice to have her grimace so much of the time is doubtful. Denise Crosby as Woman is menacingly accurate to watch. The Apollonian Boys (Chris Arvan, Josh Heine, Matt Little, Eric Schulman) do provide some welcome relief. They are active and fierce, keeping the play from being all talk.
Heightening the fantasy ambiance are projections on three large screens by video designer Alexander Mirecki and projection designer William R. Parks. These range from a realistic snap of two little people to sketches like those drawn in a child's hand. Director Gates McFadden has uses the stage and the actorsshrewdly to draw truth out of fantasy.