Please note that, at the beginning of Act I of This Cursed House, there will be occasional smoking of nontobacco cigarettes. We apologize if this causes audience members any discomfort.
In addition, although no animals are harmed in the production of this play, a Shih Tzu named Measles is disparaged in the second scene, before being stuffed into a handbag and hustled offstage.
We should add that, at the end of Act I, immigrant characters on the Lower East Side use nonstandard English colloquialisms to describe a shotgun wedding in Niagara Falls. This awkward literary style may vex audience members of exceptional refinement.
Please be aware that during the bat-mitzvah-party scene that opens Act II, strobe lights are activated to show the disorientation and spiritual inertness of a character’s childhood, setting the stage for a lifetime of disappointment. Don’t be surprised if the strobes induce a seizure in the woman next to you, perhaps by unearthing her repressed memory of seeing her boyfriend and best friend kissing after the senior prom, after which she might confuse you with that conniving friend and break your nose.
During intermission, audience members are encouraged to read the playwright’s biography, but be warned: his half-baked ideas about lactose intolerance and Middle East politics might feel like sharp pokes in the eye.
At the beginning of Act III, there will be four gunshots into the head and torso of the male protagonist, just after his anti-maritime tirade at a coffee shop on Martha’s Vineyard, in response to his wife’s admitting an affair with the shop’s owner. For those of you with assisted-hearing devices, the gunshots will sound like the Apocalypse, and you will leave the theater with the headache of your life.
Act III accelerates with the illness of the beloved child, whose shortness of breath is caused not by allergies, as you were led to believe, but by tuberculosis, which was contracted during his 7th-birthday party. During previews of This Cursed House, this revelation caused an accountant from Poughkeepsie to sob and tremble violently, then call his daughter, who was on her honeymoon, to tell her she was adopted, thus rupturing their relationship.
We should note that, to create a more claustrophobic feeling for the hospital scenes, the house will be pumped full of humid air, and the air conditioners will be turned off.
Audience members visiting from red states should be aware that the parents of the ill child unleash a series of blasphemies, including the standard “There is no God!” as well as the innovative, if somewhat maudlin, “I curse the black skies o’erhead, the palace of a cruel deity!” This is followed by a dream sequence, in which a rabbi, a priest, and a minister appear in the nude, as part of the child’s plea to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
At the very end of the play—just before the child asphyxiates, the man dies of blood loss, and the dog is once again disparaged—an “earthquake machine” will shake the stage and nearby seats, signifying both the fragility of life and the wrath of God descending on the grandfather, who tells his relatives, in the last line of the play, as he spits copious amounts of saliva into rows 1 through 6, that it was he who stole the money and ruined their lives.
If audience members need to leave the theater during any of these events, please do so quietly.