A McMansion Becomes a Stage in This American Wife


Something very funny is going inside the stately mansion tucked away at the end of an azalea-lined cul-de-sac in Lake Success, New York. There is a camera in the refrigerator. And another in the oven. Two actors, Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley, deliver hysterical monologues rife with female trouble into them. In another part of the house, actor Jakeem Dante Powell plants his face next to a statuette of a naked male wrestler’s rear end. Plaster vases in the shape of human body parts decorate a bookcase. Jars of lemon drops and real lemons adorn a tabletop. A giant pink Barbie-style truck has been exhumed from the basement and moved to a shocking pink bedroom. Another bedroom has been turned into a control room, with multiple computer screen monitors watched over by a crew that includes director Rory Pelsue and dramaturges Cat Rodriguez and Ariel Sibert.

Suburbia may never be the same.

Breslin, Foley, and their merry band of artists (Slave Play writer Jeremy O. Harris is a producer) have turned this empty Long Island house—the owners live elsewhere and rent it out—into a virtual theater for the production of This American Wife, an experimental and quite demented homage to Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise that the pair have conceived and written. The young men are diehard fans of Bethenny Frankel, Luann de Lesseps, Kelly Bensimon, and other divas of the franchise and will act out 15 full scenes from the show in a daring attempt to elevate the reality stars from the histrionic drama queens we have come to know to the level of cultural figures. Each night from May 20 through May 29, the audiences will tune in via livestream to watch the play unfold inside the impossibly true-to-life set. (Tickets are from $25 or $50 and may be purchased here.)

“We were in [Yale] drama school when we started to work on this, and a big impetus was to situate these women in the context of great heroines and great performance artists,” Foley says. “Certainly someone like Bethenny or Lisa Rinna are incredibly skilled at telling stories for a certain medium.”

In This American Wife, the company aims to “recontextualize,” as Foley puts it, epic moments from the various series while trying to “reframe them in internet language via Go Pro [cameras].” Case in point: Powell rehearses the nasty scene in which Atlanta housewife Kenya Moore, insulted by fellow housewife Porsha’s introduction of her at a charity event as a former Miss America (she is a former Miss USA), twirls her way out of a poolside gathering of her fellow housewives with a withering exit line: “I am Gone With the Wind fabulous!”

Cameras are set up all over the home to capture the action.

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