New neighbors, Kenny and Sharon, just moved in next door to Mary and Ben. Both couples are at a crossroads. Ben is out of work and exploring an entrepreneurial opportunity, while Sharon and Kenny are getting back on their feet after meeting each other in a rehab facility for major substance abuse. The suburban life Mary and Ben know is beginning to itch, while Kenny and Sharon are grasping for stability. Mary and Ben invite the new neighbors over for dinner to become acquainted. This sparks a bond that inflames four lives. Their backyard barbeques ignite into a delirious bacchanal which is all masked by suburban shrubbery.
Not necessarily set in Detroit, but rather any first-ring suburb of America, Detroit explores the modern definition of neighbor, the Thoreauvian impulse to return to the primal woods, the uncertainty of the middle-class, the quest for second chances.
Mary, everyday really is a new day. But Mary, I open my eyes every morning and all I want is a pipe to smoke. It's like there's a fire burning inside of my head, Mary, and the pipe is the water that will put it out... in the middle of this burning I am supposed to envision my life. I'm supposed to set goals and maybe take night classes and expand my horizons. And I guess that works, Mary, I guess so. But to be honest I feel like the real opportunities fall into your lap. Like winning the lottery or someone's rich Uncle needing a personal assistant. That almost happened to me once, Mary. And everything would have been different.
Lisa D'Amour was initially inspired by the ice-breaker her brother uses at parties: "Alright everybody, one question: If you could have any other job than the job you have now, what would it be?" Initially responses are superficial. "I'd be a quarterback in the NFL! I'd be independently wealthy!" When forced to think of the question in realistic terms the responses open doors to meaningful conversations. D'Amour wrote: "They start talking about the major they ditched in college because the course of study wasn't practical. Or the shelf of archaeology books they keep at home. Most often, people totally surprise you with their dream career, and their reasons for wanting it. Everyone has a secret self. A self they desperately want to be. A self they believe they will never get to be."
Written in 2009, Detroit was first premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 2010. From there Detroit has been a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize award as well as the Susan Blackburn Smith award. It is this year's winner of the Obie Award for Best New American Play. It has premiered in London, New York, and all across the country regionally.