CLYBOURNE PARK @ 710 MAIN THEATRE

Posted on October 11, 2013 by gina No Comments  

 


CLYBOURNE PARK

By Bruce Norris

November 8 – December 1

This landmark satire is simultaneously a prequel, sequel, and modern commentary on the American theatre classic A Raisin In The Sun, spanning fifty years in the history of one much-contested house in a constantly evolving suburb.

The year: 1959. Housewife Bev scurries frantically to prepare for the Big Move. Anything that she can’t take from her Clybourne Street home to the new house across town, well, maybe her loyal cleaning lady Francine would like it? Bev’s husband Russ remains inert on the couch, no help at all, fixated only on consuming a carton of ice cream. He’s so eager to leave the house that he and Bev have spent their entire adult lives in – the house where they raised their only child – that, mentally, he’s long since checked out. Unexpected guests arrive for a visit: the chipper local clergyman, who is concerned for Russ’ well-being, and a pair of nervous homeowners, mobilized to discourage Russ and Bev’s departure. It’s not just that Karl and his wife will miss their neighbors; there is, moreover, some concern in the community about the arrival of the new residents, who (word has it) hail from… gasp… Hamilton Park. (And as everyone knows, people from Hamilton Park are, well… different.)

50 years later, the tables have turned. Clybourne Street and the surrounding neighborhood now looks very different. The community is equally tight-knit, however, and so the arrival of Steve and Lindsey, two young suburbans, is as notable as were the immigrants from Hamilton in the previous century. Lindsey and Steve are married, expecting a child, and chomping at the bit to move closer to their urban careers and take advantage of the affordable and serviceable homes in the first-ring suburb that is Clybourne. Lena and Kevin are longtime Clybourne residents, and the current owners of the house that Russ and Bev sold in 1959; they’re happy to sell, just so long as some technical concerns about the easement and the dimensions of the property can be resolved…

But an off-handed comment spurs second-thoughts, then revelations about the property’s history, and then something almost resembling a debate about – gentrification? Or general cultural prejudice? Or something. Both of the couples are, initially, too polite to commit.

Gradually, though, awkwardness becomes unease, and conversational floodgates are opened. What follows is a game of one-upsmanship – a volley of off-color jokes and outrageous statements, guaranteed to insult, compromise, and/or offend every character – and every audience member. When the smoke clears, we are left with a picture of long-buried traumas bound to forever haunt anyone who tries to own this house on Clybourne, indiscriminate of race or class.

Clybourne Park is a ferocious expose of segregation, white flight, and ever-shifting cultural insecurities, calculated by turns to amuse and to disturb. Bruce Norris’ play is the winner of nearly every imaginable major drama prize, including the Tony  and Olivier Awards and the Pulitzer Prize. Though set in Chicago, it’s a story sure to resonate with Buffalonians; RLTP is very proud to present this important production at the 710 Main Street Theater.

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