Clybourne Park at the Park Theatre

‘This play just gets more & more topical, with its cathartic storm of mutual offence’: CLYBOURNE PARK – Park Theatre ★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

Park Theatre, London – until 24 April 2022

In 2010, Bruce Norris’ play wowed the Royal Court: this is a ten-year anniversary (well, plus two years lost to Covid) so forgive me for quoting what I wrote then:

“I spent the interval racked with worry that the play might decline in Act 2. If that had happened, I would have trudged heartbroken into the night, unable to write a word. No danger, though: it roared off again into the stratosphere, glittering and throwing off sparks.”

It is a treat to return to this clever, honest, mocking piece: a comedy wrapped around a tragedy, a satire on class, race, offence, grief and housing. And by chance, I see it  just after the Bridge’s Straight Line Crazy, about New York’s growth and social conflicts 1922-62.

For this, set in the same house in 1959 and then 2009, makes a sort of accidental oblique sequel, conveying the human tides flowing along those expressways. It is sharp, funny, bookended with delicate grace by an acknowledgement of tragedy. In Oliver Kaderbhai’s production, it is also most beautifully acted.

In 1959 Bev (Imogen Stubbs, housewifely, wittering, cloaking a deep