Thursday, March 28, 2013

CLYBOURNE PARK: SpeakEasy's 21st Season Continues

CLYBOURNE PARK/SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Roberts Studio Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion, BCA

SpeakEasy Stage Company continues  it's mission with a visit to CLYBOURNE PARK

In a statement on it's website ( , SpeakEasy Stage Company says the mission is "to connect, inspire, and challenge our audiences with the most socially relevant theatrical premieres featuring the most talented artists in Boston."  And halfway through the 21st season, following exemplary productions of The Motherfucker With The Hat, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Other Desert Cities, that mission is being fully realized, show by show.  And now, with the sold-out and extended run of Clybourne Park, they once again honor that mission.
The Pulitzer and Tony Award winning play, by Bruce Norris, opens with a first act that parallels Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In the Sun (which, in a great show of mutual support and planning, is being currently  revived by the Huntington Theatre Company at their BU Theatre mainstage).  Bev (Paula Plum) and Russ (Thomas Derrah), the grieving parents of a Korean war veteran whose return home is marked with tragedy, are preparing to sell their home in the white middle-class Chicago neighborhood of Clybourne Park to the black Younger family of Lorraine Hansberry's play.  The fears and prejudices of the white neighborhood are represented by the visits of the white clergyman (Tim spears) and the Linders, Karl (a character in "Raisin", played by Michael Kaye) and his pregnant wife (Philana Mia).  The other two characters in Act One are the black maid, Francine (Marvelyn McFarlane) and her husband Albert (DeLance Minifee).
In Act Two, the acting ensemble is back for a fast-forward to 50 years later, in 2009, as Steve and Lindsey (Kaye and Mia as the penultimate white yuppie couple)  grapple, with the aid of their lawyer (the chameleonic Plum),  with a black couple (MacFarlane and Minifee) over concerns from the neighborhood organization about plans to destroy the historical home and build a McMansion.  As the meeting careens around issues of race without really addressing them, a construction worker (Derrah) digging in the yard unearths literal secrets while the assembled group exposes secrets of their own.
The drama inherent in the situations is contrasted nicely with a surprising and welcome amount of comedy.  The versatile ensemble fills Christine Tedesco's skeletal set with crisply defined characters, under the keen direction of Bevin O'Gara, who trusts the actors and allows the play to unfold as it  tells it's story.
Originally set to close this Sunday, Clybourne Park has been extended through Saturday, April 6, but tickets are selling quickly for the added week.  Don't miss it.

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