At La Jolla Playhouse, the world premiere of Ike Holter’s Put Your House in Order takes a budding millennial-style romance and morphs it into a predatory horror story. The transformation isn’t completely seamless. Caroline’s (Shannon Matesky) and Rolan’s (Behzad Dabu) getting to know each other at her upscale suburban house (designed for maximum curb appeal by Arnel Sancianco) is a tiring exercise in riffing and flirty put-downs. The mood changes with the arrival of a wild-eyed neighbor, Josephine (Linda Libby), whose brandishing of a gun is only the start of the manic chaos that follows.
Playwright Holter’s end-of-the-world motif is heightened in this production by the sounds of sirens, gunshots and the unintelligible rumblings of a growing mob. Caroline and Rolan become survivalists, while Josephine completely whacks out (which has to be a total treat for Libby). Put Your House in Order is frankly more engrossing for its special effects and unseen dangers than in it is for those subject to them. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 6/12/19.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.