Race issues are revisited in Bruce Norris’ ‘Clybourne Park’

From left: Jeremy Shamos, Damon Gupton and Crystal A. Dickinson star in “Clybourne Park,” now on Broadway.

“Clybourne Park,” the fictional Chicago neighborhood and white bastion invaded by the Younger family in Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” has been zoned for Broadway — and you might want to take note. Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, with the expert cast from its off-Broadway run intact, continues to radiate wit and insight as it takes on, in the tradition of Hellman’s classic, the thorny issues of race and housing.

Norris offers no easy answers, just trenchant observations. Russ (Frank Wood) and Bev (Christina Kirk), a white couple who have sold their Clybourne Park home to an African-American family after their son’s suicide, are visited by Karl (Jeremy Shamos), a Community Association representative trying to undo the transaction. 

Fifty years later, as the all-black neighborhood is being reclaimed by whites, Steve (Shamos) and Lindsey (Annie Parisse) have bought the same house and are meeting with Owners Association representatives Lena (Crystal A. Dickinson) and her husband Kevin (Damon Gupton) about the height of the construction they are planning.  

In Act I, Kirk overplays Bev’s airheadedness, which might be funny in small doses but is cloying in large. Still, this doesn’t diminish the cohesiveness of the excellent company, whose members play brilliantly off each other in both acts and eras. Norris’ dialogue rings with truth and humor throughout. His genius in juxtaposing two epochs in the same house shows how far we’ve progressed on matters of race and, more pointedly, how far we haven’t.  

If you go

‘Clybourne Park’

Walter Kerr Theatre
219 W. 48th St.
$50-$127, 212-239-6200


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