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Clybourne Park Review

BY TANNER STRANSKY, Entertainment Weekly

Nary a detail was changed in the NYC-to-L.A. transfer of Bruce Norris' lightning rod of a play, Clybourne Park, which is running at the Mark Taper Forum through Feb. 26. Everything's the same as it was during the Pulitzer Prize-winning outing in the Big Apple, from the cast down to the graffiti on the walls of 406 Clybourne Street in the show's second act. That's all good news: It's still the same racially charged, brilliantly acted, clever show as it was before. So it should come as no surprise that the production is just as good as when EW's Melissa Rose Bernardo gave it a sterling A two years ago. She called Clybourne ''an absolute corker — a completely audacious, architecturally ingenious entertainment.'' She couldn't be more right.

The only real point of difference with L.A.'s Clybourne is that the Center Theatre Group, which runs the Mark Taper Forum, has scheduled a simultaneous (and pristine) revival of Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun — which opened at the Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City three days earlier. The plays are harmonious: Clybourne imagines both the time before Raisin's black Younger family controversially moves to 406 Clybourne Street in a then all-white enclave of suburban Chicago — as well as 60 years later, when the now mostly black neighborhood is on the brink of gentrification by whites. With the superb cast playing parallel characters in each timeline,Clybourne uses a tiny seed from Raisin to build its entire eye-opening story.

Seeing the two plays back-to-back is a rare treat, and seamlessly lets each play — and especially Clybourne — resonate all the more powerfully. Of course, Clybourne can easily stand alone — as it clearly did in NYC — but the chance to catch the play that inspired it at the same time only makes the shocking implications of the work that much more startling. It'd be a shame to see one without the other.

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