Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
“It’s high time indeed for a major new play” about the gradual death of the “middle-class suburban dream,” said Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune. Taking place in the suburbs of Detroit—a city that’s come to embody the nation’s economic malaise—Lisa D’Amour’s new play centers on two couples who drunkenly spar at a backyard barbecue. Ben and Mary, the last couple standing in a neighborhood decimated by foreclosures, host new neighbors Kenny and Sharon for an afternoon. Both recovering addicts, Kenny and Sharon are the kind of folks who a decade ago would have been priced out of Ben and Mary’s block—which also makes them targets for the latter couple’s pent-up elitism. Things get more than a little uncomfortable as Ben and Mary gradually “lose their grip on ‘suburban nice.’”
This “backyard battle” slowly shapes up as a “latter-day, anti-intellectual take on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” said Hedy Weiss in the Chicago Sun-Times. Mary, played perfectly by Laurie Metcalf, is one of the most manic and “deeply lonely” stage characters I’ve seen in some time. She’s matched by Ian Barford’s Ben, who’s cockeyed scheme to start a website offering credit-counseling services counts as a sensible plan among this financially obtuse group. Meanwhile, Kevin Anderson and Kate Arrington, as Kenny and Sharon, represent a segment of the middle class that, “penniless and on the shakiest emotional ground,” is always one paycheck shy of destitution. D’Amour holds out “the promise of reinvention” for these couples, but Detroit’s vision of the future is a bleak one.
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.