Detroit

  • Our critic's rating:
    Date:
    September 1, 2012
    Review by:
    Tulis McCall

    (Review by Tulis McCall)

    What is fascinating is Lisa D’Amour’s style. She brings you into the play well after it has started. Mary (Amy Ryan) and Ben (David Schwimmer) are hosting a back yard barbeque for their new neighbors, Sharon (Sarah Sokolovic) and Kenny (Darren Pettie). From the very first moment there is something a bit off. For one thing we have no idea what Mary is talking about because this very specific scene involving a receipt, and old seagull and a box full of money could be a dream or could very well be real. That’s how it goes in this play.

    The sliding door to the house is a bit tricky. There is a woman in a red jogging suit that only the new neighbors have seen. The new neighbors have no furniture in their house.

    These two couples are mismatched in pretty much every way. Mary is a paralegal and Ben was just laid off from a bank, so he is designing his own financial planning website and following his passion. Sharon works in a phone bank and Kenny in a warehouse. But they push onward with only the conversation of the moment to sustain them. It is as if we are watching a laid back improve team let it roll on.

    Sharon and Kenny don’t drink – and you can imagine why very early on in this game. Sharon accuses Ben of being British, casually at first, but she doesn’t let go of it. Kenny is all about the house and the patio layout – poor quality. They are all pretty much friendless – and Sharon even has trouble focusing on the kindness of a barbeque invitation without nearly going off the deep end of gratitude.

    So they stick together these two couples. There are a few cursory breakdowns. Life is not good for anyone, it seems. So we dip in and go deep, but then we pop up again to the surface of the pool and swim through the new detritus that has accumulated while we were otherwise occupied. We discover their obstacles watch them move forward. Not that they really get anywhere. But dammit, they move. And that’s worth something. Or not.

    Mary and Kenny attempt a cookout of their own that brings on a mild disaster. And the magnet that they travel with begins to pull in the doom. The great part is that we never see it coming because we are so fascinated by these characters. These four actors make playing subtle look easy, when it is not. And Anne Kauffman’s direction provides a steady rhythm to this quartet.

    The disquiet eventually gets itself turned up to many, many more miles an hour than anyone can handle, but it is not until the addition of the reassuring presence of Frank (John Cullum) that resolution is reached. We see how it all came to pass and better yet see whence Kenny and Sharon sprang. They did not spring forth in a vacuum. The debilitation of the neighborhood is so poignant in the eyes of Frank that it is almost poetry.

    This is a play with an after taste and an afterglow. Detroit is not about the city of the same name. Detroit is square in the middle of our lives. Look around. And pay attention even if you don’t think you need to. You do.

    "Both disturbing and bracingly funny."
    Charles Isherwood for New York Times

    "Briskly funny but blurry dark comedy."
    Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News

    "Expertly written, directed and acted.”
    Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post

    "Don’t miss 'Detroit.' It’s special."
    Erik Haagensen for Back Stage

    "Funny, potent new play."
    Robert Feldberg for The Record

    "Brimming with provocative ideas and potent images, Detroit is an excellent addition to the off-Broadway neighborhood."
    David Cote for Time Out New York

    "A dark and unsettling new comedy."
    Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey

    "Smart, deadly funny and gives you something to think about."
    Marilyn Stasio for Variety

    External links to full reviews from popular press...

    New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - Back Stage - The Record - Newsroom Jersey - Variety