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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
CLYBOURNE PARK
at Walter Kerr Theatre

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
By MATT WINDMAN

  Damon Gupton, Annie Parisse, Crystal A. Dickinson and Jeremy Shamos/ Ph: Nathan Johnson

Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris’ brilliant satire of race relations, liberal attitudes, urbanization and gentrification in suburbia, deserved to transfer straight to Broadway immediately following its Off-Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons.

Two years later – 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 limited run on Broadway. (The Broadway mounting was nearly derailed a few months ago due to a feud between Norris and mega-producer Scott Rudin, who dropped out and was replaced by Jordan Roth of Jujamcyn Theaters.)

Inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play A Raisin in the Sun, in which the black Younger family bravely decides to move from the inner city of Chicago to a white suburb, act one of Clybourne Park, set in 1959, takes a close look at the married couple moving out of the 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 surprise visits from a local clergyman (Brendan Griffin), who sincerely wants to help Russ, and Karl (Jeremy Shamos), a community member who thinks that the neighborhood’s property value will drop once the Younger family moves in, and his deaf and pregnant wife (Annie Parisse).

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

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

Although the initial issue concerns the new height of the home, it violently segues into a heated argument over who is really benefitting from the community’s sudden renewal.

Pam MacKinnon’s crisp production savors all the intellectual vigor and black comedy of Norris’ play and makes for a phenomenal theatrical experience. The ensemble cast is thoroughly phenomenal, with each member juggling at least two roles.  

 


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