Review: ‘Clybourne Park’ at The Stagecrafters Theater

Every city has a Clybourne Park. “It starts one house at a time,” as one of the characters states. In act one (1959) it is a neighborhood that will soon have its first “colored” family moving in. Act two (2009) finds the same house in the same neighborhood, which is now entirely black, subject to new white gentrification. Bruce Norris’ play is given a hilarious production with a sharp satiric edge at The Stagecrafters Theater.

Patrick Cathcart and Neena Boyle. Photo courtesy of The Stagecrafters Theater.
Patrick Cathcart and Neena Boyle. Photo courtesy of The Stagecrafters Theater.

Remember A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry? Did you even wonder what happened to Karl Lindner the Swedish twerp who unsuccessfully tried to bribe the Younger family so his neighborhood could remain pure? Well, he’s back in his home suburb of Clybourne Park, now trying to get his neighbors to cancel the sale. The family is a typical group of depthless white people who assume their “Negro” servants are invisible. Attitudes have changed 50 years later. The African Americans are now very noticeable, while the so-called liberal whites are drowning in patronizing insensitivity.

Patricia Masarachia’s two story set of unpainted wood conveys the dilapidated condition of the 2009 house, but is less successful with the newer 1959 house. Gilbert Todd’s simple lighting is excellent, while Joan Blake’s costumes colorfully illustrate the differences that 50 years can make. They score extra points for making Karl seem to be from 1910.

The cast assembled by Director Catherine Pappas is outstanding. They appear in both plays and are totally different in each one.

Patrick Cathcart is as unctuous as Hansberry wrote Karl Lindler, and uproarious as a white yuppie who continually puts his foot in his mouth.

Neena Boyle plays the pregnant wife in both plays and demonstrates flair and superb comic timing.

As the black characters fighting for equality, Sara Osi Scott and Timothy Richardson bring fierce dignity to their characters.

Mare Mikalic and Sara Osi Scott. Photo courtesy of he Stagecrafters Theater.
Mare Mikalic and Sara Osi Scott. Photo courtesy of he Stagecrafters Theater.

Also featured are Thomas-Robert Irvin, Mare Mikalic, and Michael Brinckman. The ensemble is rapid-paced and spectacularly spontaneous.

Who knew Clybourne Park could be this funny?

Running Time: Two hours, with an intermission.


Clybourne Park plays through Sunday, December 11, 2016, at the Stagecrafters – 8130 Germantown Avenue, in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the box office at (215) 247-9913, or purchase them online.

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Neal Newman
Over the past 40 years, Neal Newman has directed extensively in classical, Shakespeare, modern theater, musicals, and opera. He trained as an actor at California State University, and trained in Shakespeare at ACT of San Francisco. He trained as a director at Carnegie Mellon, and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He directed many Off-Broadway productions in New York, ran a summer stock company, and directed five seasons of Shakespeare in the Park in Philadelphia, and many opera and Gilbert & Sullivan productions. He was a New York Critic for Show Business Magazine for 7 years, and has written for many local papers and websites. He is co author of 'GOLDILOCKS AND THE DOWN HOME BEARS' presented at Steel River Playhouse, and will soon present a reading of the new musical 'LITTLE PRINCESS.'


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