LATHAM — Gee, human beings are strange creatures, aren’t they?
I think that’s the conclusion you might come to when you take in “Tiny Houses,” a quirky, one-act dramedy by Chelsea Marcantel, now in a well-paced production that begins Curtain Call’s 30th season.
Do we ever know what we want? And if we get it, are we satisfied? Those are the questions that many of us who have the luxury of asking such questions get hung up on, from which ensues either tragedy or comedy. For the purposes of this review, let PP stand for “potential problem” when embarking on such an existential journey.
Take Bohdi (David Quinones, Jr.) and Cath (Elizabeth Pietrangelo), a couple of four months (PP#1) who have just moved to rural Oregon from NYC.
This is a big adventure for city girl and high-powered hedge fund manager Cath (PP#2) because she is hard-wired for fast living, burnout notwithstanding.
Bohdi, however, is from Oregon — this very town (PP#3)! They have come here because they want to buy some land on which to erect a tiny house (PP #4 and PP#5). Tiny houses are, of course, all the rage, so why not, they think, get in on all the rage? Downsize. Live off the grid. Enjoy life, not things. And build the house yourself (PP#6).
Have I mentioned that Bohdi’s old girlfriend, Jevne (Sarah Wasserbach), still lives in town? (PP#7) And that the land on which they are currently building the house belongs to Ollie (Alex Perone), a good friend who’s enamored of haunted dolls, which he tries, via the internet, to find good homes for? (OK, technically, this isn’t a PP for the young couple, but it does creep them out a bit.)
And then there’s Jeremiah (JJ Buechner), a professional contractor who arrives partway through the construction process to correct the amateurs’ mistakes. (PP#8, but I won’t tell you why.)
Oh, and I forgot to say that four of them have podcasts during which they dispense advice to others. How ironic.
Part of the play’s pleasure is watching the cast actually build a tiny home. To Frank Oliva (and probably Peter Max) goes the credit for everything we see by way of set. To Alex Dietz-Kest go the kudos for the fabulous sound design, an undercurrent of music and ambient noise. Lily Fossner’s lighting work shows the passage of time, and Beth Ruman’s costumes and Rebecca Gardner’s props reveal the change in the seasons. (Oh, yes. They’re still at it nine months later.)
Director Carol Max (with an assist from stage manager Cecilia Widomski) has gotten fine work from the cast. Buechner’s Jeremiah is the embodiment of sweetness and common sense. Perone’s turn as Ollie is delightful, an easygoing dude fascinated, as many of us are, by some arcane enterprise that, it turns out, lots of others are, too.
Wasserbach delivers Jevne’s scary determination to the hilt. (Her seductive podcast voice reminded me a bit of Delilah!)
Quinones, always solid, shows us a guy worthy of admiration at first but later a weak man we don’t know what to make of.
In a standout, three-dimensional performance, Pietrangelo reveals, through movement and line delivery, all the shades of Cath’s personality: she’s conflicted about her own future and one with Bohdi, yet ultimately confident enough to live with the uncertainty of it all.
Remember the poignant Bacharach/David song “A House Is Not a Home”? It came to mind a couple of times as I watched this show.
NOTE: Masks are required.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 1 Jeanne Jugan Lane, Latham
WHEN: through Oct. 9
HOW MUCH: $30
MORE INFO: 518.877.7529, or curtaincalltheatre.com