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Fringe Review: House Rules

By Nicholas McBurney on June 15, 2018

House Rules
by Mark MacDonald
Shenaniventures

45 min / Family, Solo / PG

Much like with puppies and carpets, accidents can sometimes happen at Fringe. Such is the case with House Rules, a new work written by Mark MacDonald and performed by Nick Wade. Originally planned as a performance by three different actors across six nights, circumstances changed so that two actors, Nick Wade and Hilary Peck, will split the run between them.

This one-dog story is told from the point of view of Waffles, a family dog who is mourning the loss of his older brother and playmate. When his family brings home a puppy who doesn’t even know how to fetch, Waffles is forced to decide how to handle the annoying new addition.

The show is an experiment that allows different actors to interpret the same script, so it may be worth seeing multiple performances featuring both actors. Wade performed admirably, despite being given the script barely a week ahead of opening night. Though reading from the script, he is still able to bring the family dog to life with some simple physicality, a chew toy, and Timbits—at least for the first half of the show. Unfortunately, the second half does suffer from limited rehearsal time as the script reading comes less easily and stage movements are reduced.

Finding a Fringe play that is suitable for small children can be a challenge, but with its borks and boofs, sniffers and tree dogs, House Rules is a good fit for both younger audiences and dog lovers. If your child can sit through an hour-long story without issue, they will certainly enjoy this. But, if lots of clowning and stage movement is needed to hold their attention, then you should pick a seat near the door in case they start fussing.


House Rules by Mark MacDonald is being performed in ODD BOX inside Arts Court (2 Daly Ave) until Sunday June 24, 2018. Tickets Cost $12. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.