Friday, February 05, 2010

Clybourne Park

I don't normally write about shows this early in previews, but since I loved it and didn't get a press ticket for it, I thought it worthwhile to bring Bruce Norris's new play, Clybourne Park, to your attention. In a cleverly linked pair of one-acts, one in 1959 and one in 2009, Norris wittily examines the nature of "community," particularly as it relates to class. It's far more complex than that--so much so that it's not until the last ten minutes of each play, and the terrifically diverse performances of Jeremy Shamos, that race even comes into focus. Also embedded in the script is the tale of a soldier--the ultimate stranger--and his sad suicide. Furthermore, Norris neatly shows the dangers of hyper-politeness, both of the past and present, in which our way of respectfully stepping around what we really mean is ultimately more offensive and harmful than simply coming right out and saying it. The ensemble is terrific, particularly Christina Kirk's 1959 fluttery housewife and Annie Parisse's excitable 2009 "post-racial" liberal, and it's the best work Pam MacKinnon's done as a director: high-paced naturalism suits her.

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