Clybourne Park review: A play packed with energetic dialogue and irradiated humour

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Set in the same Chicago community immortalised in Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun, it deals with similar issues of racism through property ownership, albeit in an entirely different way.

The first act is set in the 1950s when Russ (Richard Lintern) and his wife Bev (Imogen Stubbs) are moving from their house as a result of their son’s death after the Korean War.

Bev’s bottled hysteria is cracking against Russ’s granite implacability while their neighbours Karl (Andrew Langtree) and his hearing impaired wife Betsy (Katie Matsell) are aghast at the prospect of a black couple moving in. 

In the second act set five decades later, the situation is reversed.

Property developers (some related to the earlier characters) want to tear down the old house and build a new one at the expense of the neighbourhood history now defended by the black owners who have built up their own successful community over the years.

Book-ended by a secret that is literally buried in the garden, it is a play packed with energetic dialogue and irradiated humour.

Norris’s great skill is to ask difficult questions without supplying easy answers; a subversive satirist and a gleeful controversialist, he exercises his right to be an equal opportunity offender.

Noone here gets out unscathed. It includes at least one joke so outrageous that even Barry Humphries might think twice about it.

The seven-strong cast (including former Royal Ballet soloist Edward Underwood) perform to the max in a play that is challenging, dramatic, hilarious and brutally entertaining.

Clybourne Park at Park Theatre until April 23 Tickets: 020 7870 6876



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