Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 2, 2013

Clybourne Park

Barrington Stage, Pittsfield, MA
through October 13, 2013
by Jennifer Curran

There will be a moment during this production, this glorious and beautiful and heartbreaking production, where audience members will see themselves in a character, and likely not share it with anyone but themselves. Act I takes place in 1959 in the house at the center of the novel A Raisin in the Sun; Act II is 50 years. Throughout the play, the audience realized that a lot has been said about race relations, but is anyone listening. Clybourne Park, masterfully crafted by playwright Bruce Norris, attempts to bring to life the important ideas, history, and truth that humans can’t seem to say out loud to each other.

Giovanna Sardelli is a director who is fierce in her ability to tell a story simply. She somehow never gets lost in her journey, and with razor sharp control she delivers a production that makes the original Broadway show a far away memory.

Russ and Bev Younger (Remi Sandri and Carol Halstead) reveal motivation in selling their home to the first black family in a white zip code. It isn’t a pleasant view from inside the nearly empty living room or the equally barren marriage. Banalities replace conversation as the two characters wonder about everything except a certain dark truth that brought them to this place. As the neighbors stop by in vain attempts to get them to not sell to the black family on their way, they also try and fail miserably to sound like anything other than the racists they are. 

Act II – flash forward a half-century – and the walls of the house have been torn down. In a mirror image of language and rhythm through the lens of modernity, the coin has flipped. A young, erudite white couple has decided to begin the gentrification of the neighborhood by purchasing the home only to tear it down and build an even bigger monument to good intentions. This news has not come happily to the Historical Society. In a diatribe about history and preservation, the truth is merrily danced around, sometimes politely spoken and avoided handily. 
In the end, the playwright and his characters all have so much to say and yet so little time to listen. This is Clybourne Park.