Name a major award that a play can win, and chances are "Clybourne Park" has won it. The Olivier Award for Best New Play. The Tony for Best Play. The Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Bruce Norris' play, the upcoming show from Asolo Repertory Theatre, was regarded as the most entertaining and the most controversial show on Broadway during it 2011-12 run.
The biting comedy takes a fresh look at a familiar topic, race relations in America, by riffing on Lorraine Hansbury's classic "A Raisin in the Sun."
The action starts in 1959, when a family in an all-white neighborhood wants to sell a home to the Youngers, the African-American family from the Hansbury play. They encounter racism from neighbors who fear, among other things, declining property values.
The second act takes place in 2009. The neighborhood has become mostly African-American, and a white couple wants to buy the house to raze it. They have to deal with neighbors who fear gentrification, and they too encounter racism.
The script calls for the same actors to play the characters in both acts, even though they're different races.
Obviously, this is a play that has some powerful and uncomfortable points to make, but critics were almost universal in talking predominantly about how funny "Clybourne Park" is, and how non-politically correct its humor is.
Details: March 15-May 2 at Asolo Repertory Theatre's Mertz Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 2 p.m. matinees April 3, 6, 10, 13, 18, 21, 25, 27 and 28; 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays; all other evening shows 8 p.m. Tickets: $57-$73. Information: www.asolo.org or 941-351-8000.
-- Marty Clear