By Melissa Rose Bernardo
June 10, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT
Joan Marcus/AP Images

Our House

  • Stage

After last summer’s crackling theater-themed comedy The Understudy, Theresa Rebeck bites the other hand that feeds her with the disappointing television-set Our House (playing Off Broadway at Playwrights Horizons). A former writer-producer for NYPD Blue and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Rebeck probably encountered one or two network execs like SBS honcho Wes (Christopher Evan Welch), a ratings-obsessed philanderer on a mission to (1) eradicate anything resembling news from his airwaves and (2) achieve world domination for his beautiful (if robotic) morning-show anchor girlfriend, Jennifer (Morena Baccarin). Touting synergy and pooh-poohing conflicts of interest, Wes names Jennifer as host of the voyeuristic roommate reality show Our House. (And if all of this sounds familiar, it should: Think CBS bigwig Les Moonves, The Early Show‘s Julie Chen, and Big Brother.)

A cleverly juxtaposed is-it-reality, or is-it-reality-TV parallel plot centering on four warring housemates — one of whom is, conveniently, a Jennifer-worshipping, Our House-obsessed nutcase (Jeremy Strong) — gives Rebeck the chance to pontificate on the ever-shifting, constantly blurring line between news and entertainment. But the hot-headed, out-of-touch network bigwig has been done?and done better (hello, Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock). And eye-rollingly funny as Wes’ many one-liners are, you can’t fill a two-hour play with jokes about ex-Mole host Anderson Cooper and writers’ strikes (”I could pick up a prostitute off the street — she’d be a better writer than anyone in the WGA. On either coast!”). So Rebeck resorts to funneling her message into the ramblings of Strong’s crazy remote-control-wielding couch potato. Ah…the seemingly insane but actually-wiser-than-anyone-else-on-stage oracle. Haven’t we seen that on CSI? Or Law & Order? Or about 10 other TV shows? C+

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Our House

  • Stage
  • 06/09/09
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  • Our House