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WATCH: This play unmasks race relations and is a definite must-see

2016-09-04 10:48
 

Cape Town - Penned by US playwright Bruce Norris of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Clybourne Park opened at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town last week with a stellar local cast.

Set in a neighbourhood in Chicago, the hard-hitting comedy explores race relations in two slices of history, set 50 years apart.

The first act sees a traditionally white community react to news that a black family is about to move in. In the second act, there is resistance as a couple tries to negotiate renovations to the house they bought in a gentrified suburb.

In the second act, one character called Kevin tells a joke: “How many white men does it take to change a light bulb?” He answers: “All of ’em … One to hold the light bulb while the rest of ’em screw the entire world!”

Tension between characters reach boiling point as they vent frustration and anger through sharp jokes based on stereotypes.

The play is described as "scathingly funny", and as an exploration of "the fault line between race and property".

Clybourne Park is hilarious and, moreover, refreshingly honest in its unmasking of subtle discrimination.


The show elicited belly laughs, but also complete silence as the audience absorbed many uncomfortable truths.

My initial irritation at the fake American accents waned fast due to brilliant acting in a smooth production with beautiful sound effects and lighting.

It stars the ever-impressive Andrew Buckland, as well as Nicholas Pauling, Lesoko Seabe, Scott Sparrow, Susan Danford, Claire-Louise Worby and Pope Jerrod, who plays Kevin. Jerrod is best known for his role as B-grade US actor Orion O’Grady in the SABC1 miniseries Dream World, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in contemporary South Africa.

The elaborate set, complete with homely floral wallpaper later desecrated by graffiti, was designed by Saul Radomsky, who also worked on Shadow of the Hummingbird and Orpheus in Africa.

Clybourne Park has won worldwide accolades, including a Tony Award for Best Play (2012), an Olivier Award for Best New Play (2011) and a Pulitzer Drama Prize (2011).

It will run at The Fugard Theatre until October 1.

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