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One-woman show explores real estate stress

BY ISAAC HAMLET | APRIL 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa City serves as a literal backdrop for Housebroken. A map of the city stretches over the back of the stage, dotted with images of such landmarks as the Old Capitol and Kinnick Stadium. To either side, mounds of cardboard moving boxes frame the map as music fills the theater and Megan Gogerty takes the stage.

Housebroken is a one-woman show written and performed by Gogerty. The play will première at Riverside Theater, 213 N. Gilbert St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday and run through April 26 on Thursdays through Sundays after April 12.

“Megan is an artistic associate at Riverside Theater, and we’ve produced two of her previous solo shows,” said Jody Hovland, Riverside’s artistic director and a cofounder of the theater. “When she told us about the possibilities for what became Housebroken, it was a no-brainer to say yes.”

The play tackles a traditional pillar of the American Dream, one that has grown increasingly dubious in the modern landscape: homeownership. The show is based on Gogerty’s experience in house hunting, and over the story’s course, she steps into three personas: her, her husband, and their real-estate agent.

“The show is an existential crisis disguised as a comedy about buying a house,” Gogerty said. “Everything in the story is true, and some of it actually happened.”

Director Alexis Chamow, Gogerty’s friend and collaborator of 15 years, has come in from Los Angeles. In the past, Chamow has acted as a dramaturge for Gogerty and directed a previous Gogerty Riverside performance in 2011, Feet First in the Water with a Baby in My Teeth. 

“[Chamow] asked really smart, probing questions and challenged me to dig deeper into the material and not go for the easy laugh,” Gogerty said. “Because of her, the laughs come from a place of truth and honesty, which really makes them that much funnier when they hit.” 

For Housebroken, the two decided to focus on the physicality of the performance. Their efforts appear to have reached fruition, as Gogerty moves easily on stage, not only in the ways she manages to move from place to place but how she changes her mannerisms from character to character

“Megan is really ambitious in an artistic and creative way,” Chamow said. “With Feet First, she made sure she could do a one-person show. This time she was more confident with the script going in and wanted to focus on acting.”

Ron Clark, one of the cofounders of Riverside Theater as well as its resident artist and production manager, directed Gogerty in her first Riverside production. Since then, he’s been able to watch Gogerty’s work and performance as more of an observer.

“When you see Megan on stage, she’s completely natural,” Clark said. “The warmth and charm you see in her performance, that’s who she is. She has a personality that translates from real life to the stage perfectly.” 

The show comes from a very real place for Gogerty. Her struggles in buying a house, she said, left her “adrift with no plan” before time permitted her to piece together the story of Housebroken.

“We’re delighted to be able to provide a launch point for new work like this,” Hovland said. “Nothing is quite as exciting as birthing a play for the American theater, [and] this is a play that I believe will have people talking. It’s electric, it’s fresh, and Megan is absolutely captivating."


THEATER
Housebroken
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-April 26
Where: Riverside Theater, 213 N. Gilbert
Admission: $18-$30


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