The concept of freedom is at the core of the historical drama The House that will not Stand, which takes place in 1836 in New Orleans at a time when plaçage — common-law marriages between wealthy white men and free women of color — was common, though technically illegal. At the helm of one such aristocratic house is Beartrice (Lizan Mitchell) and her recently deceased husband-of-sorts Lazare (Ray Reinhardt). Despite one brief, posthumous spanking by Lazare and a full-fledged ghosting scene later on, The House that will not Stand is composed solely of women of color, which is sadly so rare in theater that this fact alone makes it noteworthy. But the play also benefits from witty dialogue; an electric cast; and hearty servings of lust, murder, voodoo, jealousy, and intrigue in the Big Easy. Oakland-born playwright Marcus Gardley brings his usual lyrical undoings, depth, and playful fervor to make for a dazzling and rousing experience.
It’s difficult to broach the subject of death (even in a theatrical way), seeing as our culture encourages much denial and polite subject changes — and that’s why shows like Geezer, Geoff Hoyle’s fantastic solo show at The Marsh Berkeley, are so necessary. Geezer forces us to confront our mortality at the same time as we are laughing at it. From nursing home sketches to stories about his father’s passing at the relatively early age of sixty to an account of learning to be a “mobile statue” with Etienne Decroux during the revolutionary late Sixties in Paris, Hoyle hops, mimes, and mock-puppets his way through the darker dips of mortality, only to emerge with quips, big laughs, and poignant explorations of enlarged prostates and varicose veins. Both young and old theater-goers should experience Hoyle’s moving and laudable performance.