Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Neighbors, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
As a play, Neighbors tried everything, placing domestic turmoil (fracturing marriage, troubled daughter) alongside grand historical issues, and throwing in some Brechtian meta-theatre as well (applauding the Crows, we become the audience the minstrels were exploited by). There wasn't space for it all to be worked out: the strand on classical tragedy didn't seem to develop, and the relationship between the daughter and son of the two families didn't have any point to get to after it ignited Patterson's fury. The strange songs and routines of the Crows burned themselves into the mind. I had no idea what minstrel shows actually consisted off - a chapter of American theatrical history not much dwelt upon, I imagine. The ending was powerfully disconcerting. It was rather remarkable to read in the programme that there was debate over whether to go ahead with a production of this work, given its 'outrageousness'. Inventive theatricality, intelligent text and a work that leaves us feeling uneasy is surely just what the contemporary stage needs. A co-production of the Nuffield and High Tide Theatre. Good to see a decent-sized and appreciative house at the Nuffield for this.