“Attention, yuppies and others taking over New York’s neighborhoods and gentrifying them beyond recognition. Danny Hoch would like you to leave,” said Frank Scheck in the New York Post. In Taking Over, the writer/performer portrays a cross section of characters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where an ethnically diverse population is being displaced by affluent, mostly white young “hipsters” migrating in from interior states. Taking Over is a stirring lament for “a once-vibrant melting pot in which all the ingredients are starting to look the same.”
Hoch has an extraordinary talent as a mimic, said Peter Santilli in the Associated Press. He channels an elderly black woman who feels invisible to her new neighbors, and sympathizes with locals like Robert—of Polish and Puerto Rican descent—who screams, “Go back where you came from!” at those who would replace his bodega with a bistro. Yet the yuppie characters, whom Hoch obviously despises, come across as “strikingly one-dimensional” in comparison with those for whom he has sympathy. Such bitter caricatures have earned Hoch criticism, and he proudly reads his “hate mail” aloud at play’s end.
“There’s no way Taking Over could spark so much outrage if it weren’t both engaging and at least partially accurate,” said Sam Thielman in Variety. “When money comes” to a neighborhood like Williamsburg, “people of Hoch’s generation and social class go.” But Hoch seldom touches on the real complexity of neighbors learning to live together in a city that’s constantly changing. An “us against them” one-sidedness makes the play more of a tiresome diatribe than a head-on attempt to confront gentrification.
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