Can a drama be memorable if all its characters are disagreeable? Bruce Norris proves that it’s possible in “Clybourne Park,” his smart, abrasively funny and fiendishly provocative play that opened Wednesday at the Mark Taper Forum.
Charles McNulty – LA Times
Director Pam McKinnon adeptly guides a strong ensemble through Norris’ steady stream of comic explosions.
Les Spindle – Backstage
Despite the fun of their performances and some funny lines, I say to go see A Raisin in the Sun for a much more satisfying experience.
Robert Machray – Stagehappenings
Yes, it’s dangerous and provocative, but pulverizingly funny to boot.
Bob Verini – Variety
Provocative, even dangerous, Norris’ play unflinchingly challenges all assumptions. His message is painful yet as clear as a shouted epithet: After 50 years, racism endures. Only the terms of the problem have changed.
Paul Hodgins – OC Register
Now at the Mark Taper Forum, Park’s director Pam MacKinnon holds tight reins over an outstanding ensemble, all of whom play two roles as the play shifts in two acts from 1959 to 2009.
Don Grigware – Grigware Blogspot
This isn’t to fault the actors — they delivered skilful, snappy performances. Same goes for the direction and production, which were first-rate. Wish I had something better to say about Norris, but I find it hard to get excited by a playwright who thinks it’s the height of courage to poke fun at a deaf woman.
Willard Manus – Total Theater
Everything’s the same as it was during the Pulitzer Prize-winning outing in the Big Apple, from the cast down to the graffiti on the walls of 406 Clybourne Street in the show’s second act. That’s all good news: It’s still the same racially charged, brilliantly acted, clever show as it was before. So it should come as no surprise that the production is just as good as when EW’s Melissa Rose Bernardo gave it a sterling A two years ago.
Tanner Stransky – Entertainment Weekly
Clybourne Park is reminiscent of a time when all it took was a great play to shake up society and shine a light onto the role we play in exacerbating the conflict and ignorance in this world. Let’s hope for our own sake, we don’t just continue to sit back in recognition.
Suzy Yaako – Socal
Director Pam MacKinnon has cleverly cast this play. The actors of Act I become the characters of Act II, but not necessarily in corresponding parts. It underscores the message that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Karen Weinstein – Culture Vulture
“Clybourne Park” is certainly an engaging, if exasperating, experience.
Katie Buenneke – Neon Tommy
This sort of play makes me want to see everything else the author has written or will write. It combines tragedy with comedy with breahtaking smoothness. It’s also about something, clearly but with the fumbling tones of everyday speech, in this play, raciscm.
Laura Hitchcock – CurtainUp
And, now that I’ve seen Clybourne, I’m happy to report that it’s well worth whatever effort was involved in bringing it to LA in time to play simultaneously with Raisin – and featuring the original Playwrights Horizons actors and the original director Pam MacKinnon, who will then move the play to Broadway in April.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch
The Playwrights Horizons Production of this Pulitzer Prize-winning play is currently at the Mark Taper Forum., raising uncomfortable questions even as the audience laughs and groans at obvious faux pas and racial conceits of the past.
Jana Monji – LA Examiner
“Clybourne Park” is probably the most acclaimed new American play since John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt” back in 2004, and the original off-Broadway production, entire cast intact, is playing at the Taper this month before moving back for a Broadway run in April.
Lyle Zimskind – LAist
Center Theatre Group has a great production on their hands with Clybourne Park. The cast across the board is solid, energetic, skilled and totally in sync – even across the two vastly differing generations depicted.
Keisha7 – LASplash
With this duo of plays, CTG is more of a curator than a producer. Though it’s a welcome curatorial choice, it’s a sign of the times for our larger institutional theaters, and their capacity for economic viability while fulfilling some larger purpose.
Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly
And under Pam MacKinnon’s seamlessly dynamic direction, a fantastic cast does double duty, presenting what is hilarious and horrible about both eras and doing what great theater does best: holding the mirror up to society by examining the deeply etched details of finely wrought individual lives.
Christopher Cappiello – Frontiers
You have to chew through a lot of fat before you finally get to the meat; while there are some juicy morsels here, this much acclaimed dramedy is a far cry from filet mignon.
Jordan Young – LA Examiner
And they are, but not for the better, Bev. That’s the darkly ironic closing line in Bruce Norris’s astonishing play “Clybourne Park” at the Taper.
Laura Hitchcock – CurtainUp
To borrow the thought, the first act of Clybourne Park is a masterpiece; the second act, merely brilliant. This is just about the most powerful and provocative theatrical experience I’ve had watching a new American play since Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.
Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema
Decidedly non-politically-correct, challenging and frequently squirm-inducing, Clybourne Park is a play that brilliantly captures the awkwardness of the overly-polite conversation and veneer of civility that so quickly can fall away.
Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA
On the whole, while undeniably successful, Clybourne Park keeps its transgressiveness rigorously within the bounds of commercial acceptance. That deprives it of the transformative power of a more forcefully inventive piece like the daring Neighbors by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Indeed, the weakest aspect of the current show is that it resorts to a tired dramaturgical device, the arbitrary deployment of the dead child, which Norris invokes skillfully without overcoming its unpersuasive artifice.
Myron Meisel – Hollywood Reporter
Though oddly, despite the quality of CTG’s Broadway bound production, Norris’ characters don’t ever enter the mind when watching A Raisin in the Sun. Clybourne Park is a formidable edifice, but undoubtedly one that is at its best due to the foundations on which it was built.
Brian – OutWestArts
Mark Taper Forum
Los Angeles Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave., LA
8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays
(Call for exceptions.) Ends February 26, 2012
Tickets: $20 to $70; (213) 628-2772
Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Filed Under: LemonMeter
About the Author: COLIN MITCHELL: Actor/Writer/Director/Producer/Father, award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Broadway veteran, Marvel comics scribe, Van Morrison disciple, Zen-Catholic, a proud U.S. Army Brat conceived in Scotland and born in Frankfurt, Germany, currently living in Los Angeles and doing his best to piss off as many people as possible.