Honest. Real. Foreign. Disturbing. Embarrassing. Ironic. Opposite. Poignant. Heartbreaking.
These were the words audience members used to describe Clybourne Park, a play which extends the story of A Raisin in the Sun to show us Lena Younger's new neighborhood. At Raisin's conclusion, Lena and her family discover with trepidation they will be the first black family in an all-white neighborhood.
Bev is ditzy and clueless, thrusting a chafing dish upon her black maid in a useless show of gratitude to say goodbye.
Sharonlee Mclean creates a fabulously layered character in Bev, a wife and mom with all the fifties trappings of Leave It to Beaver.
Somehow--I have no idea how she does it--Mclean gives us a character
who is at once predictable yet rounded, sensitive, human and oh, so
She is trying desperately to navigate her husband's depression,
neighborhood tensions, her own grief, and her longings for a more humane
world. And she keeps trying to give away that chafing dish.
entire first act is peppered with hilarious moments, even as we become
aware of the potential disasters awaiting the house's new residents.
was completely in love with the first act, and with Mclean's
performance as well as that of Sal Viscuso as Russ, the apathetic-angry
father trying to make sense of the world. Kelley Curran's performance as
Betsy, a deaf family friend, is an added delight, respectful and authentic.
The second act races fifty years into the
future. Suddenly you get the eerie feeling that you could be one of the
people in this meeting of neighborhood planners, realtor, and home
buyers. All are trying to avoid the obvious: the fact of blacks and
whites, still separate from each other, still battling issues of living
in a community side by side.
A monied white couple is
moving into the now black neighborhood, the home that Lena Younger
strove and succeeded to make all those years ago. Brianna Horne, as
Lena's niece and namesake, gives a brilliant performance as a poised,
noncommittal young woman who keeps her sarcasm and anger at a low
simmer. When she is challenged, though, that anger scalds.
It's a brilliant script, well-played, and the back story of the suicidal son is breathtaking.
we, the mostly-white audience in a mostly-white city, are still ringing
with self-revelation. As an audience member said after the show, "In
almost every heart, there is reservation and prejudice."
Photos by Patrick Weishampel. Tickets and info at www.pcs.org and 503-445-3700.