'Detroit': a play that asks tough questions, offers realistic answers

Lisa D'Amour’s play examines critical questions and themes that as are addressed in today’s society such as what does being neighbors mean anymore, our quest to return to nature, discussion of the middle class and that is just to name a few of the topics. This play was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize award and this year won the Obie Award for Best New American Play. Director Troy Schulze brings together an exciting, compelling cast to bring this touching, poignant play to life.

<>
Rating:
Star
Star
Star
Star
Star

The critically acclaimed play "Detroit" premiered this weekend for the first time in Houston.

Lisa D'Amour’s play examines critical questions and themes that as are addressed in today’s society such as what does being neighbors mean anymore, our quest to return to nature, discussion of the middle class and that is just to name a few of the topics. This play was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize award and this year won the Obie Award for Best New American Play. Director Troy Schulze brings together an exciting, compelling cast to bring this touching, poignant play to life.

(Spoiler Alert: Discussion of plot below)

This play tells the story of two couples who are at very different places in their lives. The typical suburban couple Ben (Jeff Miller) and Mary (Mischa Hutchings), who seem to have it all together the house, jobs and backyard BBQs. Compared to their new neighbors, Kenny (George Parker) and Sharon (Sara Jo Dunstan), the couple who met in rehab and are trying to get on their feet, struggling to get by. As the play develops, audiences discover just how similar these couples really are as the play explores varying dramatic, gritty themes.

Ben and Mary paint the ideal picture of a middle class couple. Although Ben was recently laid off, he has a plan and his wife assumes he will get back quickly on his feet. Throughout this play, the truth lies in the quick banter between these characters. These snide, cynical comments or observations speak not only to the heart of the charter but provide greater insight into the play itself.

Miller brings this down on his luck, typical middle class husband to life, as audiences might at first understand where he is coming from but then suddenly sees things on the surface aren’t always what they seem. Miller has a biting presence that feels a bit like a snake in the grass, this man just waiting for his chance to strike. Hutchings plays this bored wife and professional with spunk. As the flaws of her character seem to come to light, it seems that her friendship with her neighbor is just an excuse for the out of control, alcoholic to come out.

Kenny and Sharon are the struggling and looking for their shot at a new start. Dunstan provides the most honest and moving performance. Her character is moody, doubting, needy and just plain honest. She tells things as she sees them and lives in the moment. Her bursts of energy are infectious even for those watching. Parker plays the cool, quiet Kenny who struggles with his addiction. Parker has an inviting stage presence that easily meshes with his fellow actors on stage.

This play flips what audiences believe to be true on its head and those who should have it together, may not quite have it as together as they appear. This middle class couple isn’t as perfect as they appear and may be just as confused as Kenny and Sharon.

This play speaks to the reality of situations and spares no truth. It pushes you to see the reality in life and offers no hopeful ending of better things to come. It asks you to see life as it is and dares you to be honest with yourself and those around you. This cast of five will captive audiences with their emotional, gripping portrayals and this play challenges us to be honest with ourselves about our lives.