Clybourne Park

Lorraine Hansberry's iconic 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun ends with the African-American Younger family facing an uncertain future as pioneers in the previously all-white Chicago neighborhood of Clybourne Park. Bruce Norris' masterfully designed Pulitzer-winner has two complementary acts. The first imagines the white family whose house the Youngers bought on the eve of their departure in 1959. The second checks in 50 years later, to see how things worked out. Braden Abraham's precise directing of a strong local cast highlights the two eras' symmetries, which kaleidoscopically proliferate and collapse on themselves. During a half century, Scott Bradley's set turns from airless craftsman to airy squat house. A trunk carrying sad secrets spurs comedy, then heartbreak. A new influx of yuppier white neighbors hint at the hood's imperfect transformation. Beneath it all, the spoken and unspoken notions of race and gender grind like tectonic plates. By 2009, the only character left standing is the now-ravaged house, in which a neighborhood planning meeting is underway. (All the same performers are back, cast in double roles.) Before, the fraught subject was integration; now it's gentrification. Despite the congenial mood, white neighbors—through distractions and narcissistic self-involvement with their phones and assumptions—repeatedly shut out a Younger descendent, who has something to say about tradition. Abraham budgets the emotional escalation beautifully for maximum bang, and for maximum post-curtain reflection. MARGARET FRIEDMAN [See Margaret's full review.]

Fri., April 20, 7:30 p.m.; Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: April 20. Continues through May 13, 2012

 
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