by Craig Houk

Four vengeful, narcissistic actors, with the assistance of a brutish stage manager and a cynical stagehand, abduct and hold captive a theater critic notorious for shutting down productions and ending careers through his malicious reviews. To confound matters, they intend to carry their plan out during a performance of a show they’re all currently appearing in. Less than an hour before the curtain is due to rise, their scheme begins to quickly unravel as we discover that none of the conspirators are familiar with the actual plan or its designed outcome. Brute Farce is a satirical commentary on the perpetually symbiotic, oftentimes dysfunctional, and occasionally turbulent relationship between actors and reviewers.    

  • Cast Size: 3M 3W 1 Any Gender
  • Running Time: 90+ minutes
  • Royalty Rate: $75 per performance

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About the Playwright

Craig Houk is a D.C. based Playwright, Producer, Actor & Director. His original full-length play, COLD RAIN, was awarded Best Drama and named one of Best of Festival at Capital Fringe 2018. Craig’s other plays include SYD, BRUTE FARCE, RADIATOR, THE RELUCTANT HEN, ONE OF THEM, and three play anthologies: TETHERED, LOST IN PLACE, and SOLITAIRE SIX PACK. As a general rule, Craig writes to entertain. And in the process, he does his best to write strong characters with compelling stories to tell; characters that actors might yearn to play and stories that audiences might yearn to see and hear. Craig is a member of the Dramatists Guild.


Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 (8 votes)
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Philip Middleton Williams

Brutally Funny

What happens when the Marx Brothers get together with a road company of “Noises Off” to produce “The Ransom of Red Chief” mashed up with “Death Trap” as written for the stage by Noel Coward starring Abbot & Costello, supported by Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour, all directed by Mel Brooks? All that and more, including a sardine. Craig Houk has crafted a farce of monumental proportions, done in a way that only someone who truly loves this art form can do. A tribute to fine stagecraft, ingenious casting, imaginative set design, and non-stop laughter.

2 years ago
Doug DeVita

Take the actors and leave the critic.

Actors. Critics. You can’t live with ‘em. And apparently you can’t kill ‘em. Or can you? Does it matter? Hint: it doesn’t, especially when there’s as much fun to be had as there is in this very funny, very dark backstage comedy of errors and terrors. A delightful challenge for directors and designers and a wonderful workout for the actors, I imagine it will be an enjoyable treat for its audiences when staged, which I hope it will be – soon. We all need the laughs!

2 years ago
Vince Gatton

A venemous delight

Ever wonder what would happen if a bunch of actors watched the Vincent Price movie Theater of Blood and found it aspirational, but lacked the imagination or attention to detail to pull it off? Wonder no more, because now there’s Craig Houk’s Brute Farce, a wacky and savage backstage/onstage comedy about a murder plot whose vain conspirators display a serious lack of commitment. With high stakes, nutball characters gifted with enormous self-regard and not much else, an over-engineered backstage prompting system, and no recurring gag too cheap to revisit, Brute Farce is a venomous delight.

2 years ago
DC Cathro

“Brute Farce” is a knockout’

Full of laughs and vile, self-centered characters who suffer the tortures of the damned… Hence all the laughs! This farcical backstage/onstage romp harkens back to classics of the genre and even includes a wink-and-a-nod or two. Furiously frantic and funny with lots of physical humor and wordplay, plus a great challenge for actors and designers alike. Hilarious!

2 years ago
Kim E. Ruyle

Brutally funny!

A hilarious and brilliant sendup, an homage to Noises Off complete with a reference to sardines. Set in 1920s London, the wacky cast of “meat puppets” deals with narcolepsy, a doomed theatre critic, and technical disasters. A wonderful opportunity for actors and set designers and great fun for the audience. Produce this!

2 years ago
Stephen Kaplan

Wild and Crazy!

Nothing’s better than a group of misfit characters that you both root for and also cringe at their every move! A very funny comedy that had me laughing out loud and holding my breath as each new plot point unraveled and exploded right in front of us. A play that screams to be staged.

2 years ago
Donald E. Baker

Simply hilarious

A backstage–or in this case under stage–farce worthy of being ranked with “The Play That Goes Wrong” and “Noises Off.” Every over-the-top role is a gem for character actors over forty, the situations are marvelously absurd, and the physical comedy will have audiences eagerly awaiting each new mishap. It is a delight to read and would be terrific to experience.

1 year ago
Andrew Martineau

Wildly Inventive

There are few things in life as much fun to experience like that of a really well-written farce in a madcap production, and great farces are few and far between. Craig Houk has created a meticulously structured, no-joke-is-off-the-table play that shows a genuine love for actors, and not so much love for theatre critics. This play begs to be staged and savored for its hilarious characters and inventive slapstick action.

1 year ago
Jacquelyn Floyd-Priskorn

Two great plays in one!

I had the great honor of attending closing weekend of the world premiere of this play! I watched from different sides of the house and I am glad I did. So much is going on in this physically demanding comedy, you will WANT to see this as often as possible to catch all of the great visual jokes as well as the witty dialogue. And let me say, the play WITHIN the play is just as brilliantly crafted! I would love to see that one staged on its own.
There are a lot of possibilities for producing this play at any budget. Don’t deny your season the hilarity of this athletically powerful farce!

8 months ago
H. Russ Brown

The Whole HILARIOUS Package!

Houk’s BRUTE FARCE is a breath of fresh air in a world of recycled schtick!

Vivid characters, crackling dialogue and visual gags – all a treat for the audience and with those special nods to the world of theatre themselves… just icing on a tasty cake. I could visualize the story unfolding as I read and I deeply appreciate Houk’s strong sense of voice and individuality for his characters… I would KILL (get it?) to play any of those roles!!
Don’t just read it – this show needs to be put onstage!! It will engage actors and audiences alike!!
Houk is a playwright to be respected… I know I do.

1 month ago

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