Some kind of technical problem prevented a chunk of this week’s Washington City Paper from being posted online. My review of Darrah Cloud’s play Our Suburb at Theater J was among that chunk, so I’m posting the full text of the review here.
Writer Darrah Cloud’s Internet Movie Database page indicates she was once a prolific imagineer of made-for-TV movies: A Christmas Romance, A Holiday for Love, A Holiday Romance, The Sons of Mistletoe, and — shades of intrigue! — Undercover Christmas. I haven’t seen those films, but the titles imply the sort of cornball mawkishness that some people — specifically, people who are very wrong — associate with Thornton Wilder’s oft-revived, Pulitzer-winning 1938 play, Our Town.
Our Suburb is Cloud’s riff on Wilder’s classic in the way that Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird was a reworking of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, only she isn’t debating her source material the way Posner’s thrilling play did. She’s moved the action — well, “action;” she’s kept Wilder’s sense of life as a sequence of mostly prosaic moments that we are tragically incapable of appreciating — from the fictitious hamlet of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire in the early years of the 20th century to her native Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, about 75 years later. There we follow three households, alike in rigorously striving dignity: The white Majors, and black Minors, and the Jewish Edelmans.