We’re getting to the end of Tarragon Theatre’s incredible 2022/23 season with Chelsea Woolley’s Paint Me this House of Love. Directed by Tarragon’s Artistic Director Mike Payette, Paint Me this House of Love is a beautifully crafted story told by equally beautiful artists. A story about truth and lies, trust and doubt, Paint Me this House of Love is a must-see piece of theatre!
Paint Me this House of Love is delicately crafted by author Chelsey Woolley. In her notes she mentions that the works of Harold Pinter, and that influence greatly permeates the work. The way that Woolley has structured the dialogue puts even more emphasis on what’s not said versus what is, especially since we learn as the play goes on that we can’t trust what anyone has been saying. I very much felt the same way leaving this play as I did when I saw one of Pinter’s works years ago; there’s not really a hero, not a good-guy you can cheer for, and it doesn’t seem like anything’s going to change. And yet Woolley still allows us to become invested in her characters and their lives and whether or not things will turn out well for them.
I loved the set for House of Love; the longer I sat there looking at it, the more interesting and fun things I found. I loved the vinyl, patterned chairs and mis-matched table which I feel like can be found in any grandmother’s kitchen, the old school radio, the wallpaper in the hallway and kitchen area. It actually made me second guess the time period of the play at first! Ken MacDonald’s nostalgic design also goes through some real-time alterations which I found fascinating; I still would love to know how everything works practically from one show to the next.
The performances given in House of Love are extraordinary. Jessica B. Hill gives a stunning performance as Cecilia, I honestly think this is my favourite role I’ve seen her in. The vulnerability she gives to this performance had my heart breaking for Cecilia, and I was fully invested in her search for the truth. Hill’s performance is powerful in every way: truly a triumph. Jeremiah Sparks plays Cecilia’s father, Jules. Sparks brings the perfect charisma to Jules; you can totally understand how Cecilia’s mother falls for him but as the lies begin to accumulate during the play, we see how that charm can’t quite get him out of everything. Tanja Jacobs plays Rhondi, Cecilia’s mother and delivered a heartfelt performance. Jacobs totally has the slightly-overbearing, but really just loves you super hard mom vibe throughout the play.
There are only a few chances left to see this amazing production! Make sure you get to see it before it closes on May 11th! For more information and tickets, visit: https://tarragontheatre.com/plays/2022-2023/paint-me-this-house-of-love/
Jessica B Hill and Jeremiah Sparks in Paint Me This House of Love at Tarragon Theatre 2023 – Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann