Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
A House Tour, by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, is an imaginary tour of "the infamous Porter Family Mansion." It's an occasionally illusory journey through the former home of Hubert and Clarissa Porter, a fabulously wealthy and eccentric couple. This is happening in a room by room structure that physically tells the story of the couple's journey toward bizarreness and insanity. Danny Scheie guides a group of at least 50 people through various rooms of the made-up house each night.
The performance starts in the Z Space lobby as Danny tells the history of the weird couple. Sometimes he gets very pompous and completely irrational ("Billions of years ago, Mother Nature forged the Planet Earth and this land we stand on"). Sometimes he actually talks about the strange couple ("For Hubert and Clarissa, Hubert and Clarissa Porter, first met during a waltz. They fell in love during a waltz. Their fates were sealed the moment they began to intertwirl to the very waltz you listen upon today"). Danny then escorts the group through the back door of the "house."
The audience is led through various rooms of the house. There are scores of stunning images to behold, such as a magical stick of butter under glass, various doors to the music room, the smoking roomand much more. The guide even has the group march German-style through one room. He finishes the tour with something like a Werner Erhard EST meeting. All the while, Danny gives penetrating anecdotes about the unusual couple. To detail just one, in the house's bathroom, Scheie puts a little hand lotion on your right hand and then gives you a cookie to eat. Don't ask what that's about.
Danny Scheie gives a fantastic amazing performance. He's as uncontrollable as he is finicky. He pesters, entices, and murmurs to members of the group.
A House Tour is a whimsical theatrical experience and Danny Scheie is skillfully able to manipulate the men and women to his will. It's a tour de force of wonderful acting. Director Jason Eagan has choreographed the performance flawlessly as our tour guide goes through adjustments of his personality. Bravo to Peter Sinn Nachtrieb for writing such an interesting piece.
A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry, through April 23, 2016, at Z Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco. For tickets go to www.zspace.org.