Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. Park Theatre 200, Clifton Terrace, London N1 to 23 April 2022. 4**** William Russell

This sparkling revival of Norris’s farce which won both the Tony and Olivier Awards and a Pulitzer prize has certainly stood the test of time. It may be a little out of touch one could say with opinions of today – some productions have been objected to – but it remains a matter of opinion. It is set in a fictional suburb of Chicago with the first act taking place in 1950 when Russ (Andrew Langtree) and Beth (Imogen Stubbs), his kindly well meaning but not too bright wife, who have put their house up for sale are visited by an outraged neighbour Kar (Andrew Langtree). The person they have sold it too is coloured and that will have a terribly effect on house prices and the neighbourhood The subsequent row is superbly outrageous and involves his deaf wife, the visiting rector, who is almost as racist as Karl, and the couple’s maid and her husband, who has come to collect her on her final day at work. They are, of course, coloured. Act Two takes place fifty years later when the house, once again up for sale, is subject to development plans by its new white buyers which do not go down well with the other inhabitants now mostly coloured. The result is yet another blazing row with each member of the first rate cast getting a show case turn yet again, turns they seize on with relish. It is very funny and at the end we discover just why way back half a century before Russ and Beth were selling up. The play gets quite frequently revived, with this production planned as tenth anniversary one stymied until now by Covid. It didn’t quite have the bite it had when I saw it originally after it transferred to the West End from the Royal Court but that is not to say its teeth are not still sharp.Perhaps the funniest performance is by Kati Matsell as the dead Betsy who never quite knows what is going on and has to communicate with sing language, the most energetic and frenzied is the double act as the appalling neighbours Karl and Steve by Andrew Langton, while Imogen Stubbs and Richard Lintern as the original owners create a genuinely sad pair while still making them figures of fun.
The set annoyed me – a steep staircase is obligatory as there are secrets in the attic to be brought down – but the front door was crammed into one corner making the entrances less than effective and looking nothing like the door of the house at either stage in its life would have done. All in all Oliver Kaderbhai’s production ensures Norris’s play comes up fresh, funny and thought provoking.

Jim/Tom: Michael Fox.
Karl/Steve: Andrew Langtree.
Russ/Dan: Richard Lintern.
Betsy/Lindsay: Katie Matsell.
Francine/Lena: Aliyah Odoffin.
Bev/ Kathy: Imogen Stubbs.
Albert/Kevin: Eric Underwood.

Director: Oliver Kaderbhai.
Set & Costume Designer: James Turner,
Lighting Designer: Alex Lewer.
Sound Designer: Will Tonna.
Production Photographs: Mark Douet.

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