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'The Open House' review: Cruel, witty

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"

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

INFO $25; 212-244-7529;

BOTTOM LINE Cruel, witty and mysterious.

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