Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

In 'Detroit,' a Snapshot of America's Crisis Moment

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

In 'Detroit,' a Snapshot of America's Crisis Moment

Article excerpt

DETROIT

New off-Broadway play, at Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St.

Written by Lisa D'Amour. Directed by Anne Kauffman.

With Amy Ryan, Sarah Sokolovic, David Schwimmer, Darren Pettie and John Cullum.

Schedule: 7 p.m. Tuesday; 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $75. Ticket Central: 212-279-4200, or ticketcentral.com.

In "Detroit," Lisa D'Amour's funny, potent new play, which opened Tuesday night at Playwrights Horizons, the American Dream hasn't just faded, it's become invisible.

Mary (Amy Ryan) and Ben (David Schwimmer) are a middle-class couple, at least for the moment. She works as a paralegal, but he's lost his job as a bank loan officer, and is trying to establish himself as a financial planner, with the aid of a self-help book.

They live in an aging housing development in a suburb of what may or may not be the city of the title. In any case, Detroit is intended as a symbol for what's happened in much of the country, with enterprise and optimism having been overtaken by failure and decline.

Clinging to the virtue of neighborliness, Mary and Ben invite the newcomers next door, Sharon (Sarah Sokolovic) and Kenny (Darren Pettie), to a backyard barbecue, although the collapsing picnic- table umbrella suggests that even that iconic American pleasure has seen better days.

The visitors, who claim to be renting their barren house from a relative, are even worse off. Sharon works at a call center, while Kenny is employed in a warehouse, until he is fired.

Under the nuanced direction of Anne Kauffman, the chitchat between the two couples, who are awkwardly getting to know each other, acquires a tinge of menace, particularly when Sharon and Kenny casually reveal they've recently left rehab.

Each of the four is struggling to gain or hold onto a sense of possibilities, but an indifferent society holds all the aces. Sharon, who sometimes seems half-crazy, babbles on about a new Internet that will make the current one obsolete, and that is so complex, it's beyond the understanding of ordinary humans like them. …

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