To begin, the entire cast did an incredible job of bringing their characters to life, despite a limited set and backstory presented to the audience. The actors brought emotion and energy to their performances and did a great job of telling the play's story. Set in two time periods 50 years apart, the plot revolves around the changing demographics in a traditionally white neighborhood.
The first part of the story, set in mid-20th century United States, sees a few of the characters struggling with the realization that a black family is moving into the neighborhood. On top of that, Russ, who is selling his house to the family, is dealing with the suicide of his son, an army veteran who suffered from PTSD.
The second half saw the plot take a complete turnaround. Relatives of the former residents allowed the house to be torn down by a white family. Despite the modern take on the same setting from 50 years ago, problems that existed in the past bring up racial tensions amongst those involved with the selling of the house, and the ethics of others begins to be questioned.
Although the plot contained serious undertones and themes, it did an outstanding job of incorporating humor and a bit of cheesiness in order for the audience to make a distinction between what was important and what was not. With this in mind, the humor clearly was not added to make a satire of racial stereotypes in neighborhoods, but rather to bring to light the ridiculousness of lingering prejudices.
Racism is still a relevant topic, and Clybourne Park does an excellent job of showing how prejudice has evolved throughout neighborhoods in America. Despite the belief that racial prejudices from 50 years ago have been eradicated by civil right movements, racism still exists among Americans today. By also incorporating suicide into the plot, Clybourne Park allows the audience to reflect and realize what is really important.
Some of the racism in the show is ridiculous, but that's the point. By focusing on this aspect, and then bringing in the theme of suicide, the production allows the audience to focus on the important things: caring about those around us, whether they be friends, family, loved ones or simply the neighbors we share.
I very much enjoyed this play, and to those who didn't have a chance to see it, I send my condolences because it incorporated humor while honing in on problems that many people experience every day. To everybody involved with Clybourne Park, thank you, and keep blessing this campus with great productions.
Graphic Credit: MADISON VANG/MANITOU MESSENGER