Off-Broadway play “House Rules” a compelling drama on Fil-Am families

NEW YORK – A powerful and poignant new off-Broadway play about two Filipino-American families adapting to the rules of life in New York is currently playing in the Big Apple.

Mayi Theater’s “House Rules” is getting good reviews, thanks to a tour de force cast of Filipino-American actors.

It’s a story about two Fil-Am families, sibling rivalries and lots of family arguments over their favorite Pinoy board games like Monopoly, sungca and mahjong while dealing with the impending death of their parents.

“The family is messy, family is crazy, family has many layers,” said actor Jojo Gonzalez who plays Ernie. “This play is not just about Filipino families, it’s about families.”

“House Rules” is an off-Broadway play created by award-winning Filipino-American playwright Ray Pamatmat.

“There are so many Asian-American actors and they are so talented,” said Pamatmat. “I just wanted to have a play where they could all just do awesome stuff and so that was really how it started.”

Tiffany Villarin, who plays Momo, said her character had to speak some Tagalog.

“I did and I still didn’t accomplish it very well, which worked very well for the character,” said Villarin. “That’s also very real for me as a Filipino-American of like understanding Tagalog, not speaking Tagalog [but] still part of your system and wanting to explore that.”

The New York Times praised Pamatmat’s compelling ideas about human psychology and dramatic structure but described the completed play somewhat in a busy direction.

Huffington Post said “House Rules” was emphatically directed and the characters were presented in crisp three dimensions.

The Front Row Center called this mostly Fil-Am cast fierce and unstoppable.

Female actor Tina Chilip said “They’re just gonna love it, they have to come.”

“How often do we come to see a Filipino play?” added Gonzalez. “How often do you have that?”

The play was produced by Mayi Theater, the largest collective of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled in New York if not in the US.

“House Rules” is playing at the Here Theater in New York until April 16.

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