'The Open House' review: Cruel, witty

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Provocative playwright Will Eno, whose dry, odd and cutting work has come close to causing fistfights Off-Broadway, makes his Broadway debut next month with "The Realistic Joneses." Meanwhile, "The Open House," part of Eno's residency at the Signature Theatre, is a taut, malevolently witty family catastrophe of a tragicomedy with roots in Edward Albee, Harold Pinter and the Addams family, but with edges that are unmistakably Eno.

Peter Friedman is irresistibly intimidating as the father, a tyrant whose recent stroke has not softened his irrational cruelty toward his two grown kids and his wife -- Caroline McCormick, with a guarded smile of the perpetually abused. Michael Countryman lurks poignantly in the background as the man's sad brother. But things begin to happen as family members go out for a while, then return as other people ready to take over the house. The ground shifts, as even the powerful are made small by life's mysteries.

WHAT "The Open House"

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WHERE Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

INFO $25; 212-244-7529; signaturetheatre.org.

BOTTOM LINE Cruel, witty and mysterious.

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