Downstate, the thoughtful and thorny drama by Bruce Norris, author of the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning Clybourne Park, is built on a plot structure as conventional as can be. A knock on the door and the arrival of an outsider turns the delicately, if not precariously, balanced world on the other side of the threshold upside down. But who comes knocking and who’s inside the door is anything but run-of-the-mill in this skillfully acted Playwrights Horizons presentation directed by Pam MacKinnon....
Pulitzer Prize winner Bruce Norris's newest play makes its New York premiere after a world premiere with Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. Downstate tickets are available now. Get tickets to Downstate off Broadway on New York Theatre Guide. Downstate tickets are on sale now.
The Downstate play is set in Illinois at the shared residence of four men: Fred, Dee, Felix, and Gio. The men are convicted, formerly incarcerated sex offenders who have moved to this group home after finishing their prison sentences. Each of their crimes is slightly different, and decades later, they feel varying degrees of remorse. They all have different routines: exercising, grocery shopping, playing piano, keeping house, and checking in with their (open-eared, steely, and exhausted all at once) parole officer, Ivy.
One thing they share is a sense of feeling trapped, almost as though they haven't left prison, as the areas of the town they're allowed in shrink. Not to mention that the house gets an occasional rock or gunshot through the window, deployed by any one of the multiple neighbors who doesn't want the men there. The main action of Downstate focuses, though, on a more personal confrontation. The now-grown Andy shows up to the house to confront Fred for abusing him as a young boy. But after a few visits, it's less clear if Andy is seeking closure or revenge. Downstate presents all its characters as complex humans, and raises questions about where the line between justice and retribution is drawn, who gets to call themselves a victim, and at what point, if any, one's punishment becomes enough.
Downstate had its world premiere at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company in October 2018, and transferred to the National Theatre in London in early 2019. The show's Chicago run happened to coincide with two high-profile news events involving sex offenses: the Senate testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and then-prospective Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in which Ford alleged that he assaulted her years prior; and the conviction of Bill Cosby for sexual assault.
Much of Bruce Norris's work deals with thorny sociopolitical themes. His best-known play is Clybourne Park, a spinoff of sorts to Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, examining themes of housing discrimination in Illinois in the 20th century and the present day. That play won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and the 2012 Best Play Tony Award, but before going to Broadway, it, like Downstate, had its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons. (Two other of his plays, The Qualms and The Pain and the Itch, have also gone up there.)
In addition, both those plays, along with three others, were directed by Pam MacKinnon. Since making her Broadway debut with Clybourne Park, the frequent collaborator of Norris's has also become known for directing shows including The Parisian Woman (starring Uma Thurman), Amélie, The Heidi Chronicles, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Tickets to Downstate in New York are available now.
2 hrs 25 mins (with 15 minute intermission)
October 28th, 2022
December 11th, 2022
Cast and creative
By: Bruce Norris
Director: Pam MacKinnon
Producer: Playwrights Horizons
Cast list: Glenn Davis (as Gio), K. Todd Freeman (as Dee), Francis Guinan (as Fred), Tim Hopper (as Andy), Eddie Torres (as Felix), Susanna Guzmán (as Ivy), Sally Murphy (as Em), Gabi Samels (as Effie)
Lighting: Adam Silverman
Sound: Carolyn Downing
Design: Todd Rosenthal
Costume: Clint Ramos
Latest Downstate News & Features
Playwrights Horizons has set the full cast for Bruce Norris's Downstate this fall. After premiering with Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago in 2018, Downstate will now make its New York premiere from October 28 to December 11.Five main cast members from the Steppenwolf production will reprise their roles: Glenn Davis as Gio, K. Todd Freeman as Dee, Francis Guinan as Fred, Tim Hopper as Andy, and Eddie Torres as Felix. There are three new cast members: Susanna Guzmán as Ivy, Sally Murphy as...