‘The House of Yes’ delivers macabre comedy

The time is Thanksgiving. The place, McLean, a posh Virginia suburb near Washington, D.C. Twenty years after JFK’s assassination, one member of the Pascal clan has a fixation in her life: re-enacting the Kennedy assassination, handling her namesake’s role with zeal for incongruity.

The Jerry Herman Ring Theater becomes the setting for a family dinner where a lot of things are wrong and you start to worry because you hope they go even worse. Wendy MacLeod’s The House of Yes, subtitled a Suburban Jacobean Play, puts into practice the proverb that history repeats itself as farce.

Christina Valo’s disturbingly hilarious performance as Jackie O sets the pace for this eerily comedic play. Jacqueline got her nickname from a party she attended by dressing exactly as Jackie Kennedy, in a pink Chanel suit, adding a few realistic details such as blood and gray-dyed macaroni to look like brain tissue. As the family waits for Marty, the eldest son, a hurricane rages outside, but is no cause for concern.

Marty is Jackie-O’s identical twin, her partner in the re-enactment of the assassination and also partner in bed. He is the only man that can turn on Jackie-O. She is therefore jealous of Marty’s naive smalltown girlfriend, Lesly, whom he brings over for the dinner as a display of freedom from the smothering, tyrannical Mrs. Pascal.

Younger brother Arthur lacks social grace but tries his best to attract Lesly.

MacLeod’s realistic script challenges director Vincent Cardinal to let his actors relax and deliver their lines with precision. Valo’s Jackie-O is relentless in her seduction and sarcasm. She purrs, she mimics, she taunts, and she walks the fine line of sanity with so much allure that the play roars along with dark humor coatings shading the very macabre situation.

The House of Yes will be playing until March 2 at the Ring Theater.