By Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal
Special to The Village News 

Put Your House in Order


Last updated 6/26/2019 at 3:38pm

Jim Carmody photo

"Put Your House in Order" cast members are, from left, Shannon Matesky, Behzad Dabu, Linda Libby.

While everyone is seeking diversity in the theatre experience, "Put Your House in Order" as described by playwright Ike Holter, is a Rom-Com (romantic comedy) horror experience. Well, yes, it is a horror all right.

Here is some insight about the author. Holter said, "What's scary to me as a millennial gay black person who lives in the Midwest, is much different than what is scary to someone else who lives in Ohio and is a white woman in her 70's." (Last time I looked Ohio is (still) in the Midwest right next to Illinois).

Here is the thing. I get it. This is a hoax. Ike Holter just put it to La Jolla Playhouse. The LJP board members represent everything he deplores. Holter said, "We actually don't have many white males working on this show, and I think that's a first for a lot of places, where it's run by people of color and women in leading positions for a lot of these roles." Holter must have cashed the check and left town. Like the current show at the Moonlight Stage, Holter wrote the worst play ever and is laughing all the way to the bank.

"Put Your House in Order" is filled with the most reprehensible of all swear words which stands For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

There must be more than 90 of them in a 90-minute show. Is this the extent of his vocabulary? This one word he used repeatedly and repeatedly as an adjective, adverb, and noun. One would encourage him to get a Roget's.

Continuing Holter adds, "Telling this story in a theater, as opposed to a movie or TV show, changes the experience for the audiences."

Rightly so. The audience is trapped in their seats for 90 minutes. Without an intermission. No one can escape the crude, ugly, violent horror of Holter's mean-spirited-doomsday script.

It is my belief actors cannot be charged with failure simply because they recited the playwright's lines. All three performers knew their lines and did their jobs. What is a pity though is why so much money and effort was spent producing 90 minutes of foul-mouthed horror?

Some insight to one of the three characters: Caroline (Shannon Matesky) replies to Rolan (Behzad Dabu) after being admonished for stealing, "it's not looting if there is a line." Later she says, holding up her phone, "I gotta take this. It's from my landlord's son's best friend." Millennials! Here is some more dialogue: "Shut your mouth." "What's wrong with my mouth?" "Shut it, cause what's coming out of it is F'd up."

True to type, neither Caroline nor Rolan put down or turn off their phones. They did their jobs, learned their lines, followed the director. It's not their fault the play is awful.

However, there is one really good thing. The set is amazing. Imagined by San Diego son Arnel Sancianco, his debut as scenic designer at the playhouse is a triumph.

Which makes one wonder why the costume designer didn't research Evanston, Illinois. The mean income for the Evanston area (the location for this production) is 25% higher than the national average yet the three artists are dressed in the dregs from the Goodwill bin. It is a disgrace. Especially for the neighbor Josephine (Linda Libby). As the grown-up neighbor, she would not be dressed in faded denim more appropriate for a woman's penitentiary.

Exiting the theater, one overhears comments from others. Comments such as: "Why did I bother to come?" or my favorite, "I wish I didn't renew my subscription after last year." Or "What was that about?"

"Put Your House in Order" is vulgar, politically incorrect, and repugnant. There isn't anything redeeming about wasting a half a day of one's life to be punished by the content.

Save your time and gas money and go see good shows like "The Producers" at Moonlight Stage in Vista, "As You Like It" at the Old Globe in Balboa Park, or grab a seat for "The Million Dollar Quartet" opening next month at the AVO in Vista. It will be wonderful.

"Put Your House in Order" is rated -0- (zero) out of 10. Face it, La Jolla Playhouse laid an egg.

The writer can be reached at


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