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Clybourne Park

a Drama
by Bruce Norris

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4636

SHOWING : October 02, 2014 - October 26, 2014



A brutally funny and fiercely provocative play about race, real estate, and the volatile values of each which won nearly every honor a play can win, including the Tony Award, the Olivier Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. The play takes place in two acts 50 years apart. Act One: in 1959 nervous leaders of a well-appointed Chicago community anxiously try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act Two: the same house in 2009, as the now predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to hold its ground in the face of gentrification. Fair warning: the language is harsh, but the conversation is worth it.

Director Melissa Foulger
Russ/Dan Robin Bloodworth
Francine/Lena Danielle Deadwyler
Bev/Kathy Tess Malis Kincaid
Jim/Tom/Kenneth Bobby Labartino
Albert/Kevin Eric J. Little
Betsy/Lindsey Cara Mantella
Karl/Steve J. Joe Sykes
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A Grape Rotting in the Sun
by playgoer
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Much has been made of how Bruce Norris’ "Clybourne Park" builds upon "A Raisin in the Sun." Other than a couple of references, though, the relationship between the two plays is a street address, not overriding thematic or plot similarities. "Clybourne Park" stands quite nicely on its own, thank you.

Aurora Theatre has cast the play beautifully with actors who ably play distinctly different characters in the two acts, albeit with a few blood relationships a couple of generations apart. Robin Bloodworth plays a husband in act one and a contractor in act two, playing off nicely against Tess Malis Kincaid as his wife in act one and adding comedy in act two. Ms. Kincaid adds an entirely different sort of comedy in act two as a lawyer who professes to take a hands-off attitude toward her child. Joe Sykes and Cara Mantella play married couples in both acts, with Ms. Mantella convincingly humorous as a deaf, pregnant woman in act one and a less pregnant, much more involved woman in act two. Mr. Sykes plays his role in act one as a sitcom character and his role in act two as a more contemporary character, no doubt upon instruction from the director, Melissa Foulger. Danielle Deadwyler and Eric J. Little also play wife and husband in both acts, with their generally obsequious behavior in act one contrasting with more assertive behavior in act two. Bobby Labartino plays a trio of unrelated roles, with perhaps the least distinction between his act one and primary act two characters. The performances all work well together, even though there is a contrast between the more broadly played roles and the more subtly played roles that lends a less-than-cohesive feel to the ensemble.

The set and costumes by Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay generally work well, with spectacular differences between the two acts, as a middle-class home becomes a tear-down-worthy shell of a house. The only misstep comes from wallpaper. In act one, the wallpaper is installed sideways (horizontally), with no attempt to match the pattern across seams. Huh? In act two, when several layers of wallpaper are peeling off the wall, some panels seem to be hung crooked, and there’s no evidence of the original wallpaper we saw in act one. Huh? again. Props (Katie Pelkey), sound (Angie Bryant), and lighting (Rob Dillard) are all fine. Technically, the production impresses.

There’s profanity in "Clybourne Park," but it’s more organic to the plot than is usually the case. The plot nicely builds to its most explosive use. And the play’s conclusion, with a flashback to a time two years before the time of the first act, has a nice resonance, being played against the ruined shell of act two. Aurora’s production lets us see why "Clybourne Park" won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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