Written by Patrick Chavis
(photo credit: Kerrin Piché Serna)
This 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning and 2012 Tony Award-winning play, Clybourne Park, is now playing at the Costa Mesa Playhouse from Jan 20 – Feb 12, 2023.
Clybourne Park is the story of a house set in Chicago, and the play documents two days, one in 1959 and another in 2009, where debates over the house and neighborhood continue to rage over race, class, and politics. While it’s not necessary to enjoy this play, Clybourne Park is a spin-off of the 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun.
From the get-go, the writing in this play is not just good. There’s some excellent writing in this play, and its concept and structure are familiar and effective. The writing feels like an old friend. There are no more surprises because you know everything you could know about that person. The play covers a true and honest depiction of biases, racism, and classism and contrasts them in a very accessible fashion. Even though the conversations are well done and amp up the drama, it’s not enough. The conversations are mostly surface-level. Unlike the material this play spun off from, this play lacks something penetrating that stays with you after you leave the show.
There are two acts in this play, and you have a different set for each act. In the first act set designer Michael Serna has constructed a living room set that would appropriately sit under the caption of vintage. It’s a spacious set, and at times there are up to six people on stage, but it never looks cramped or in the way. While there’s nothing stylistically inventive, the little details Serna included should not be dismissed. The way the windows show you the time of day to the lit-up light bulb illuminating the basement Russ uses in one of the scenes. In the second act, the house has been stripped down and looks to be in preparation for some kind of construction.
The show is double cast, so all of the actors play two parts in this show, and I enjoyed both characters from actor Cody Aaron Hanify, who plays both Karl and Steve respectively in this show. While Cody made both characters distinctive through his acting, the audience was able to notice the similarities between the two characters, despite the two existing decades apart. What impressed me about this individual performance from Hanify is how convincingly he could express such dated, backward ideas without outwardly appearing malicious. You hate this character, but you’re also like, what will he do next? The character exemplifies the lengths some people would go or will go to keep things the way they are, even to the detriment of others.
Mia Josimovic plays the characters of Bev and Kathy in this play. Josimovic is a chameleon of sorts, as her portrayal of both characters was so understated. Like her co-star Hanify she was able to link her characters together through her performance on stage.
Costa Mesa Playhouse’s Clybourne Park is an excellent night of theatre.
Story8.5Acting8.5Set & Design9Costumes9Entertainment8.5
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Great Show! OCR Recommended! Jan 20 – Feb 12,2023.
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