Jacoby and Zoë Sophia Garcia in The Rep’s
production of “One House Over.”
Photo by Michael Brosilow
- Upon entering the Rep theater, our eyes are drawn to
the stage. A full house with a spacious backyard replete
with gardens fills out the space. We are in Chicago in
of the action occurs in the backyard of Kevin
Depinet’s awesome set, but we can see, by means of
lighting and sheer curtains, inside the living room as
well; we also get a glimpse of the basement, where a
young immigrant couple live, by means of the basement
have been hired by Joanne, the owner of the house, to
help her care for her aging father.
first character we meet is dozing on a chaise lounge. He
is Milos, a grumpy old man, very well-rendered by Mark
Jacoby. He is a Czech immigrant who was driven out by
the Nazis as a young man and is now living with his
daughter Joanne (Elaine Rivkin). He is difficult to
handle sometimes. Aren’t we all?
a married couple from Mexico (Camila and Rafael),
looking for employment and always peering over their
shoulder for fear of being deported, well-played by Zoë
Sophia Garcia and Justin Huen, who speak fluent Spanish
at times, giving us a flavor of culture clash.
last character is Patty (Jeanne Paulsen), the woman next
door, not a particularly friendly neighbor, but not an
ogre either. There are no good guys or bad guys here.
They’re all complex and fully realized by the skillful
playwright, Catherine Trieschmann, a writer who has
always been intrigued by relationships and the factors
that nourish or stymie them.
country composed of immigrants, we are either welcoming
or territorial to “the new kids on the block.” They
are either seen as potential contributors or strange
“others” to be shunned or somehow eliminated, an
issue that is as old as the founding of this country.
the story proceeds, we realize that each character is
struggling with something: Milos, with old age and its
concomitant issues; Joanne with caring for her aging
father, the onset of breast cancer and loneliness;
Camila with a longing to return to her native land;
Rafael with his dream of owning his own Italian
restaurant; and Patty, who is caring for an ailing
husband and trying to be a good grandmother and a social
activist as well.
a line in the play where Patty asks Camila, “What do
you covet?” A
good question, which gets partially answered by all the
characters as we get to know each of them.
issues of privacy versus disclosure, friendliness versus
aloofness, are prominent here. Where do we set our
boundaries with family, friends or neighbors? What kind
of fences do we each build around ourselves for
protection or for fear of being exposed and vulnerable?
There’s not an easy answer to this one.
a very enjoyable drama with its equal share of humor and
pathos. With the immigration issue being such a
prominent one today, this very well-written, well-acted
examination of the complexities of the problem affords
us plenty to think about as we leave the theater.
AT A GLANCE“One
The play runs through March 25 at the Rep, 108 E. Wells
St., Milwaukee. Call 414-224-9490 or visit