Thursday, February 2, 2012

Clybourne Park

The Arden Theatre, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia,  is presenting Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  The engagement has been extended through March 25 and will head on to Broadway in the spring.  Award winning Lighting Designer Joshua L. Schulman, working in tangent with award winning director Edward Sobel, has successfully created an invisible curtain on Arden’s Arcadia Stage. The briefest of blackouts enables the characters to appear on their mark on stage. Both acts are set in the same house in Chicago. The first act takes place in 1959; the second act 50 years later. There the similarity of the two acts ends. Norris wrote the play to serve as a prequel and sequel of sorts to Raisin in the Sun. Great attention is paid to detail to bring the audience right into a home in the 50’s. The housewife with her bib apron, the maid with her white stockings and saddle shoes, the husband with his transistor radio reading the latest copy of National Geographic, and the slip covers on the easy chair all serve to set the scene in the first act. David Ingram portrays Russ, a grief stricken man who cannot be consoled by his wife, Bev, played by Julia Gibson or Jim the local pastor portrayed by Steve Pacek.  Maggie Lakis depicts a deaf woman who accompanies Ian Merrill Peakes, her bigoted husband on a visit to the Clybourne Park home. Erika Rose paints Francine, a subservient maid and Josh Tower enters the picture as Albert, Francine’s eager-to-please husband. The first act is brash; its profanity raw. Each actor plays a stereo-type to the height of ridiculousness .Thanks to the versatility of this wonderful ensemble cast, the second act finds each actor playing a character who is almost a polar opposite of his character in the first act. The warm, cozy house on Clybourne Street in Chicago is in the process of being gutted as it stands in a state of great disrepair. The dialogue is raucous but hysterical. As tempers flare and the characters goad each other, audience members turn to each other in their laughter and ask, “Did they really say THAT?” Bruce Norris has produced a stunning work that examines the race issue that existed not only 50 years ago but continues to resonate today. Don’t wait until Clybourne Park appears on Broadway. For tickets or further information call 215-922-1122 or visit online at

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