Theatre Review: ‘Clybourne Park’ -- 4 stars

MATT WINDMAN, AM New York

"Clybourne Park," Bruce Norris' shameless and brilliant satire of race, liberal attitudes, white flight and gentrification in suburbia, ought to have transferred straight to Broadway right after its lauded Off-Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons two seasons ago.

After being produced around the country and in London and winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the entire Off-Broadway cast has reunited for a much deserved Broadway run.

The play is directly inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's classic "A Raisin in the Sun," in which the black Younger family bravely decides to leave Chicago's inner city and move into a white suburb.

Act One, set in 1959, takes a look at the married couple moving out of the same home about to be occupied by the Youngers. The garrulous Bev (Christina Kirk) and reticent Russ (Frank Wood) are still recovering from the suicide of their son, who allegedly committed war crimes in Korea.

While packing the last of their belongings, they receive a few surprise visitors, including Karl (Jeremy Shamos), a community member convinced that the neighborhood's property value will plummet once a black family moves in.

The couple's black maid (Crystal A. Dickinson) and her husband (Damon Gupton), both deeply offended by Karl, are unwillingly thrown into the debating.

In the intervening 50 years, the neighborhood falls victim to poverty, violence and drugs. Act Two, set in 2009, revolves around a white couple (Shamos and Parisse) planning to bulldoze the same house and rebuild it, and the resistance they face from a black couple (Dickinson and Gupton).

Although the height of the new house is the alleged initial concern, the seemingly polite conversation shifts into an argument over who is really benefiting from the area's sudden renewal.

Pam MacKinnon's production savors all the explosive vigor, confrontational edge and black comedy. The seven-person ensemble cast is thoroughly phenomenal, particularly the emotional Wood, upbeat Kirk and over-the-top Shamos.

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