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Time Out Theater Review: "Detroit"

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Amy Ryan and David Schwimmer star in "Detroit," a new drama now playing off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. Time Out New York's David Cote filed the following report for NY1.

If good fences make good neighbors, then the suburban couples in Lisa D’Amour’s funny and subversive Detroit are the worst. One pair is materialistic and insecure while the other is seedy and shifty. Together, they overshare, trash boundaries and generally make a mess of their lives. Of course, watching the fences burn down is what’s so fun about this stinging social comedy.

Detroit, which isn’t explicitly set in that city, focuses on the tangled power dynamics between two couples: uptight paralegal Mary and recently laid-off banker Ben, played by Amy Ryan and David Schwimmer, and fresh-out-of-rehab drifters Sharon and Kenny, played by Sarah Sokolovic and Darren Pettie.

Sharon and Kenny have just moved next door and, in scenes set in front yards and patios, get to know their neighbors. Schwimmer perfectly captures the repressed white-collar drone who finds himself in free fall. Ryan crafts a wonderfully brittle but vibrant portrait of suburban frustration: temper tantrums and binge drinking. Sokolovic and Pettie tread a fine line between goofy, good-hearted and vaguely menacing.

Without giving too much away, Detroit is a story of social insinuation and clarifying violence, with roots as varied as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Dennis Potter’s Brimstone and Treacle. D’Amour deftly evokes a certain pervasive lifestyle of today: atomized, mediated, ersatz and culturally leveled. Anne Kauffman’s sleek, beautiful-looking production gets the most out of D’Amour’s vibrant, juicy language.

Brimming with provocative ideas and potent images, Detroit is an excellent addition to the off-Broadway neighborhood. I suggest you bring over a fruit basket or bottle of wine and hope it stays for a good long time.

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