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Clybourne Park – Reviews Round-up

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Round-up of reviews for Clybourne Park at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London

Sophie Thompson and Lorna Brown in Clybourne Park

Sophie Thompson and Lorna Brown in Clybourne Park

A terrific cast, including Sophie Thompson, star in Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris’s award-winning play directed by Dominic Cooke, that gets a well-deserved transfer from the Royal Court into the West End.

This bitingly funny play about property and racial tensions in America sees the first act set in 1959, when a black family buys a house in a white Chicago suburb. Act two sees the actors take on different roles and the story reverse to the same house but in 2009. The modern-day neighbourhood is now predominantly black, and a white couple are trying to buy the same house.

The cast is singled out for special praise, particularly Sophie Thompson, Stuart McQuarrie, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Campbell Moore, Lucian Msamati and Lorna Brown.

The play is shockingly funny and the critics loved it as much the second time round as the first. The play has been winning every Best Play gong going, including the Evening Standard awards, and is tipped to do well at next month’s Olivier Awards.

See reviews below from the Telegraph, Guardian, Times, Evening Standard and Independent.

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Round up of press reviews

Evening Standard
  • Evening Standard
  • Review by Veronica Lee
  • “Bruce Norris's controversial and scabrously funny study of liberal pieties through the prism of racism in modern-day America... has lost nothing in its transfer from the Royal Court to the West End”
    “The performances are terrific, with particular mention of Sophie Thompson's Fifties housewife and modern lawyer who loves travel but remains doggedly ignorant of other cultures, Lorna Brown as the maid and passive/aggressive Lena, and Campbell Moore as Karl and the simmeringly resentful Steve.”
  • Read the full review here
Daily Telegraph
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Review by Charles Spencer
  • “The good news is that Clybourne Park seems every bit as intelligent, funny and provocative on second viewing, and this welcome West End transfer proves a thrilling shot in the arm for London’s commercial theatre.”
    “Norris’s point is that though his 21st-century characters spout PC platitudes, racial prejudice still lurks just beneath the surface in modern America among both blacks and whites.”
  • Read the full review here
The Guardian
  • The Guardian
  • Review by Lyn Gardner
  • “There are few more enjoyable sights than watching liberal hypocrisy being given a good thrashing, and Bruce Norris's Royal Court transfer arrives in the West End with such a combustible mix of race, territory and property prices that it is like a hand grenade lobbed into the stalls, primed to explode in the second act.”
    “This is a courageous play for the West End, and it wouldn't be possible if Dominic Cooke's production wasn't so perfectly pitched and the performances so spot on.”
  • Read the full review here
The Independent
  • The Independent
  • Review by Paul Taylor
  • “For once, when applied to this mercilessly acute look at the minefield of race in relation to property and language, the term "excruciatingly funny" is not critic-speak for "above-averagely amusing".”
    "Norris is very good on the wacky irrationality of racism.”
    “Sophie Thompson tears your heart as his surviving manically cheerful mother, but then all the acting is out of this world. Essential.”
  • Read the full review here
The Times
  • The Times
  • Review by Dominic Maxwell
  • “Bruce Norris’s black comedy, bolstered this week by four Olivier nominations from its run last autumn at the Royal Court, has the power to amuse, amaze and appal, sometimes in the same breath.”
    “Norris airs arguments rather than resolves them. But the fractured structure leads to something hilarious and horribly lifelike. And Dominic Cooke’s production moves from tragedy to high comedy without missing a beat.”
    “The laughs are never cheap because Norris doesn’t generalise. He shows that we all have our agendas, including but not confined to race and class. So it’s serious stuff. And a lot of fun too.”
  • Read the full review here

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