REVIEW: CLYBOURNE PARK
AMERICAN writer Bruce Norris opens this play soberly with no nonsense. War veteran Russ (Gavin and Stacey star Steffan Rhodri) is having a keen living room debate with his overly idealistic wi
CLYBOURNE PARK, Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, SW1
AMERICAN writer Bruce Norris opens this play soberly with no nonsense.
War veteran Russ (Gavin and Stacey star Steffan Rhodri) is having a keen living room debate with his overly idealistic wife Bev (Sophie Thompson) whilst their black housemaid is winding up for the day, in the white neighbourhood of Clybourne Park.
The performance is split into two acts based in two separate eras and jumps from the Chicago of late 1959 to 40 years later in 2009.
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Besides the obvious status prejudices of 1959 Chicago, the race issue does not become an overt subject at the start of the play until it is announced that the folks about to buy Russ and Bev's house are a black family.
The satirical "fun" then begins, heightened by the revelation that a death had occurred in the very same house in mysterious circumstances.
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Martin Freeman, who plays loud-mouthed neighbourhood xenophobe Karl, is rich in controversy and plays a wickedly amusing character! Decades years later in the same living room, now a remnant of fire, Lena (Lorna Brown) the black seller of the house, recalls the community's misdemeanours. In an ironic twist Lena and her husband Kevin (Lucian Msamati) are now the ones negotiating with a potentially white buyer.
Everything wrong about racism comes to the fore when stereotypes are candidly exchanged and the audience are often thrown into almost riotous laughter.
The play somehow manages to stay in the good books despite the author's underlying ferocity in exposing society's sometimes double standards.
- JERRY LOGO