Review Roundup: CLYBOURNE PARK on Broadway - All the reviews!
Pulitzer Prize-winning play CLYBOURNE PARK, by Bruce Norris, directed by Pam McKinnon, opened on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre tonight, April 19.
The cast includes Crystal A. Dickinson, Brendan Griffin, Damon Gupton, Christina Kirk, Annie Parisse, Jeremy Shamos and Frank Wood, all from the original Playwrights Horizons production in 2010.
CLYBOURNE PARK is about race, real estate and the volatile values of each, told through two acts set 50 years apart. The first takes place in 1959 as nervous community leaders try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. The second is set in the same house in its present-day, predominantly African-American neighborhood. What did the critics have to say? Let's find out!
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Usually, when a work is as topical as this one is, it has a limited shelf life. Yet returning to “Clybourne Park” — which features its original excellent cast and sure-footed director, Pam MacKinnon — I realized that this play probably will be topical for many years to come. That’s bad news for America, but good news for theatergoers, as “Clybourne Park” proves itself more vital and relevant than ever on a big Broadway stage.
Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press: "Clybourne Park" is everything you want in a play: Smart, witty, provocative and wonderfully acted by the well-knit ensemble of Crystal A. Dickinson, Brendan Griffin, Damon Gupton, Christina Kirk, Annie Parisse, Jeremy Shamos and Frank Wood. Director Pam MacKinnon lets each actor shine, pulls out the humor and is a master at the slow boil.
Erik Haagensen, Backstage: Director Pam McKinnon keeps things crackling with her sharp direction, and the top-notch cast has further refined its comic timing. The standout remains Frank Wood, who makes the seething Russ into the play’s sole multidimensional character and has found a way to register Dan with greater force than before...Ultimately, “Clybourne Park” entertains without ever unsettling.
Matt Windman, AM New York: "Clybourne Park," Bruce Norris' shameless and brilliant satire of race, liberal attitudes, white flight and gentrification in suburbia, ought to have transferred straight to Broadway right after its lauded Off-Broadway premiere at Playwrights Horizons two seasons ago...Pam MacKinnon's production savors all the explosive vigor, confrontational edge and black comedy. The seven-person ensemble cast is thoroughly phenomenal, particularly the emotional Wood, upbeat Kirk and over-the-top Shamos.
Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: Observantly dressed by designer Ilona Somogyi, a well-meshed ensemble of seven excellent actors confidently invests their characters of 1959 and 2009 with distinctive personalities under director Pam MacKinnon’s discerning guidance. Designer Daniel Ostling provides a realistic setting that poignantly suffers the passing years. A smartly-written play sure to provoke conversation afterwards, “Clybourne Park” may be too emotionally cool to please sentimental viewers, but many others are sure to enjoy the nasty conflicts that erupt when presumably nice people show their true colors.
Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly: Thankfully, Pam MacKinnon's crackerjack production hasn't lost any of its punch since its 2010 premiere at Off Broadway's Playwrights Horizons; in fact, it's tighter, a touch faster paced, and even more unflinchingly intense. And actors have only improved (though improvement was by no means necessary). Dickinson makes Lena ever so slightly more sympathetic; Kirk is even more beautifully clueless in both her roles; and Shamos, an always terrific, long-unheralded actor, is a poker-faced marvel as both Karl and Steve.
Howard Shapiro, The Philadelphia Inquirer: The cast on Broadway has come from a production in Los Angeles, staged at the same time Philadelphia’s Arden Theatre Company was running its own. The Arden’s version, directed by Ed Sobel, came off a bit differently than the Broadway production, which opened Thursday night. The second act — when Norris really lets loose with his characters’ intimations about racial issues surrounding the sale of a property to a white couple in a solid and upscale African American neighborhood — is mined more for laughs on Broadway, where it’s directed by Pam MacKinnon. The Arden’s production, while undeniably funny, was more intense as it progressed, giving the issues at stake a higher focus. While that’s the interpretation I prefer, there’s nothing awry about the show on Broadway, where it provides all the food for thought and lets you do the grazing by yourself.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: A lot has been written about Bruce Norris’ 2011 Pulitzer winner – in its original Off Broadway run; its hit London production, where it won the Olivier Award for best play; and in its recent Los Angeles stop. So much, in fact, that it seems almost superfluous to weigh in so late on this meaty satirical swipe at ingrained prejudices and the way we address them – or fail to. But the fresh revelation is how well Clybourne Park plays on Broadway. In Pam MacKinnon’s expert staging, this is provocative entertainment that generates as much uneasiness as laughter.
Bob Verini, Variety: Rarely in American drama have the gaps between what one wants to say, how one says it and what one really feels been as hilariously explored for dramatic effect as Norris is able to pull off here. There are secrets in this house and surprises, too, expertly managed by helmer Pam MacKinnon on Daniel Ostling's thematically expressive set, in the hands of a brilliant and versatile company. All are united in the task of peeling back society's veneer to confront the terrors lurking below the surface. "Clybourne Park" has no easy answers for the questions it raises about the historical roots and present-day dimensions of racial disharmony. But it sharpens the viewer's antennae for the obfuscation in which we timidly traffic when trying to discuss those questions, and that's a public service right there.
Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times: On the whole well-acted, and wonderfully directed by Pam MacKinnon making her own Broadway debut, “Clybourne Park” has provocative things to say about race relations, about community, about our failures at communication, about whether generational change is real change. It says them with humor and with insight. There are also some moving moments, and eerie moments that can pass for moving. The play is without question worth seeing, the reward of doing so the satisfaction not only of crackling theater but of keeping up with what’s happening in the culture. But will “Clybourne Park” endure the way “A Raisin in the Sun” has? Will it stir people 50 years from now?