Saturday, January 22, 2011

Clybourne Park : American Conservatory Theatre : Incendiary Play Tempered with Humor

Much of the incisive dialogue by its fearless playwright actually provide insight superior to anything I can offer about this marvelous (and searing) examination of race, political correctness, and to a lesser extent marriage, in America.

What makes it exceptional is how the incendiary subject matter is tempered (thankfully) with humor. If it weren't genuinely funny, it could easily descend into a lugubrious diatribe.

The cast, with each member playing a dual role, is for the most part outstanding. They successfully navigate the edgy material without lapsing (too far) into stereotype. This is a credit not only to the talented ensemble but also the confident, tight direction by Jonathan Moscone. And the set design's transformation between acts showcases a meticulous attention to detail which provides a perfect backdrop for the serio-comic proceedings.

As laudable an accomplishment this might be, however, one wonders exactly why Norris chose to deviate from the central theme and frame the story within a heavy subplot regarding a tragic death. Although I acknowledge it does provide some continuity and character motivation, from what I can discern it's mostly unrelated to the primary events on stage.

Notwithstanding that solitary apprehension, I highly recommend one plan a trip to the American Conservatory Theater (formerly the Geary Theater) tout de suite!

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