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A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry

A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry

Z Space
Runs Mar 29 – Apr 23, 2016

Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s deliciously wicked House Tour, starring the outstanding Danny Scheie, is one of the most innovative plays of the new season and sure-fire hit. This wild farce, written with Scheie in mind, is perfect for the Shakespearean trained actor. As the prissy, obsessive tour guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry, Scheie delivers the twisted Dickensian dialogue with wit, salacious humor and great passion. The rhythmic timing and phrasing of the script is pure magic in Scheie’s capable hands.

House Tour is an immersive experience, the audience tasked with following Londonderry through the many rooms of the Porter Family Mansion, a potentially difficult task made entertaining by the brilliant set design by Sean Riley. As you walk through the mansion, the story of the eccentric couple Clarissa and Hubert Porter is revealed. Reviled and scorned by their high society family and peers, but bonded by their mutual love of intellectual discourse and wickedly hot sex, the unlikely couple bond in their ‘us against them’ comradery. Living as bohemian outcasts in a ramshackle shack, the couple stumbles upon a business discovery that nets them a fortune.

This is not your average Winchester Mystery House tour and the only similarity is the idiosyncratic number of rooms – rooms to hide secrets and perplex any visitors. Scheie’s Londonderry has contempt for the other docents, who mistakenly exalt in the art and furniture while missing the meat of the Porter’s sad story. For him, the rooms have deeper meanings which proceed to delve further and further into his own carnal longings. The double entendres and innuendos are a delight as the very fey Londonderry challenges the audience to look into their own secrets and hidden desires.

In a nod to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the townspeople never do accept the strange couple, no matter how hard they try to fit in. The mansion is burned to the ground by the mob and we’re left to question the fate of the Porters. Did they have another hidden safe room, or did they perish in the fire? A distraught Londonderry reveals his poignant secrets in a lovely finale that again demands audience participation that one doesn’t see in the theatre too often.

Playing multiple characters, Scheie demands your keen attention and is mesmerizing throughout. Both nasty, self-important and authoritarian, Londonderry is complex, haunted and disturbing. We see his flaws unfold during the tour as he immerses us into Clarissa and Hubert’s strange love story. One of the finest of comic actors, Scheie can turn on a dime and break your heart. Nachtrieb’s script and double narrative are wonderfully played out, turning a bland tour with huge logistical challenges, into a creative triumph.