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Clybourne Park is on at the Fugard Theatre until 1 October 2016. Clybourne Park is on at the Fugard Theatre until 1 October 2016.

Close to home: Clybourne Park

Aug 30, 2016

It's 1959 in cold war America and Russ (Andrew Buckland) and Bev (Susan Danford) are packing up and leaving their Chicago neighbourhood, and family home of many years. As the couple conduct a series of petty disputes over world geography and domestic issues, neighbours drop by to the growing exasperation of Russ, brilliantly portrayed by Andrew Buckland. The politics of white suburbia and its visceral prejudices are brought into comedic focus in the couple’s wallpapered living room.

The second act picks things up 50 years later when the transformed property is once again changing hands. Now the pregnant Lindsey (Claire-Louise Worby) and her husband Steve (Nicholas Pauling) set the scene for a revisiting of the issues, as new buyers in what is now a black neighbourhood. With the cast repurposed for 2009, it is up to Lena, (the powerful Lesoko Seabe) to remind Steve and Linsey of the provenance of the place they are hoping to make their new home.

Steve and Linsey strike a too familiar chord locally, echoing the entitlement of white privilege, amid questions about what makes a community. The low-intensity conflict that characterises their marriage raises a mirror to the all too familiar petty squabbles that cloud the important issues.

Greg Karvellas's slick production of Clybourne Park has obvious relevance here where Steves and Linseys, equipped with a veneer of liberalism, can happily buy into the rapid gentrification of black working class neighbourhoods in areas like Woodstock and Bo Kaap.

Funny though the play is, at its heart are uncomfortable questions about privilege, identity and what it means to be part of a community. At the same time the production manages to be thoroughly entertaining, showcasing the talents of a good cast, on a fine set, through the prism of a very witty script. As always a visit to the Fugard is a treat in its historic buildings in District Six an area which underscores the extent to which our reckoning with issues of race and property are very far from over.

Until 1 October 2016.

Last modified on Tuesday, 30 August 2016 09:38

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