Clybourne Park

Clybourne Park

Clybourne Park
By Bruce Norris
Directed by David Reed
Starring Andy Hansen and Austin Davis
Theatre UCF, Orlando, FL

Buying a house is a big move, and selling one can be an even bigger adventure. In act one of this bitter comedy we find ourselves in white middle class Chicago in the dog end of the 1950’s. Russ (Hansen) and his wife Bev (Amanda Dayton) are packing up; they haven’t exactly been block busted but the buyer will be black. Their real reasons for selling are complex, but mostly it revolves around how their veteran son was treated. Long winded Karl (Davis) and his deaf wife Betsy (Sydney Walker) drop by to object, and Bev’s House keeper Francine (Brianna Joseph) tries to escape with her husband Albert (Joshua Goodridge). There the dread black people Kevin fears and they would just as soon not get into this brawl. Fast forward to 21st century, and the house is a wreck. The neighborhood cratered, but now it’s coming back. Closeness to downtown jobs draws the whites, and the current residents aren’t any more thrilled than their ancestors.

The pace is fast, the tension tight and Hansen does a slow burn in act one. Mr. Davis is a sharp foil; he stammers and stutters and spits anger; he can’t believe his neighbor would sell him out. In act two he’s equally offensive. A high point of the show is a series of racist jokes as each party attempts to show how hip they really are. While Ms. Joseph keeps her persona in both acts, it’s her partner Goodridge that gets the barbs. Lastly I’ll mention David Klein who plays the smarmy priest Jim in act one, and the frustrated real-estate agent in act two. All this action takes place on a gorgeous two story midcentury set designed by Gary Alexander. Maybe you’re not in the housing market, or maybe you want to move downtown, but there’s both a business lesson and human lesson, and it’s tightly written and cleanly executed.

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