Have you ever felt like you can’t speak your mind because you might offend someone around you? Or that between your views and putting them into the right words lies a minefield?
Clybourne Park brings this very issue to life through social and racial prejudices alive in the USA both today and 50 years ago. It speaks of family, social change and racism. Of how a community can hold its people together and shun them out. Most importantly, Clybourne Park reveals that putting a new lick of paint on the walls does not make the cracks on them disappear.
The play takes place in the same house with a 50 year jump forward at the interval. A family moving out under tragic circumstances allows for the first black family to move into the neighbourhood, in the second half the situation is reversed with a white family moving into what has become a black community. On either side of the millennium tension rise, revealing the social prejudices of that time which remain unchanged: the new family would affect the integrity and identity of the community. What’s more, the discussion gets so out of hand and distorted that you’re cackling in your seat at the racist and sexist jokes being fired left, right and centre, each character trying to out do the other.
The story would not have been so delectable had all parties involved not made such an effort. All the characters were believable – I for one wanted to give most of them a good slap – and drew you in to find out what they would say next. The cut away house set told you everything you needed to know about their inhabitants social class and the costumes immediately let you know what to expect once their mouths were open.
Mouths most certainly did open but all were tentative, skirting around the real issue and refusing to mention the elephant in the room. Maybe it’s because of its skin colour. That’s not a problem for you is it?