Clybourne Park, Royal Court, London
Monday 06 September 2010
The US dramatist Bruce Norris (The Pain and the Itch) delights in undermining liberal complacencies.
In his outrageously funny and squirm-inducing new play, he trains his satirical sights on the explosive subject of race and the taboos controlling how we talk about it. His Clybourne Park receives its English premiere in a superlatively performed production by Dominic Cooke.
Clybourne Park has a venerable theatrical ancestry. It's the all-white Chicago neighbourhood into which the hopeful black Younger family aspires to move in A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 drama about the difficulties of integration. In the first act of his play, Norris has had the productive and provocative notion of creating a back story for that classic. We're permitted to eavesdrop on the white couple who, having sold their house to the Youngers, are vainly pressurised by the white community to undo the deal. The second act fast-forwards to 2009 where the tables are seemingly turned.
In both periods, the disputants blunder across the conversational minefield of race with excruciatingly comic results. Martin Freeman pulls off a brilliant double. In the first half, he's the most racist of the characters – Karl Lindner, whose attempts to stop the sale are breathtakingly tactless. In the second, he's the oddly complementary Steve, the more-tolerant-than-thou white newcomer whose peeved efforts to bring the underlying racial antagonism out into the open expose him to the aggrieved charge of trying to tar the black representatives with racism and then trigger a disgracefully funny contest in which the unsmiling participants test one another's limits by telling escalatingly offensive jokes. It's an irony not lost on Steve that he picked up his gag from his one black acquaintance and it's no wonder that his pregnant wife (excellent Sarah Goldberg) is flustered into making the tellingly crass claim that "half my friends are black".
To 2 October (020 7565 5000)
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scientists create transparent mouse complete with see-through organs
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Putin v Obama: Russian deputy prime minister mocks president with catty pictures on Twitter
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Game of Thrones actress Aimee Richardson begs for 'other princess work' after Myrcella Baratheon part is recast
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in August 2014
Cultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
The Walking Dead season 5 will see deaths of 'favourite characters', suggests Andrew Lincoln
Edinburgh Festival 2014: Israeli show The City pulled after pro-Palestinian protests
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >