Detroit: Motor city is burning

Angela Timberman, John Middleton, Tyson Forbes, and Anna Sundberg.
Angela Timberman, John Middleton, Tyson Forbes, and Anna Sundberg.
Photo by Michal Daniel

Making fun of the American dream is like shooting fish in a barrel. The fading hopes, banal reality, and seedy underside of the suburbs have been fodder for writers for generations. That doesn't mean there still aren't emotional goods to uncover, as Lisa D'Amour's Detroit shows in a funny and often emotionally gripping production at the Jungle Theater.

Under the taut direction of Joel Sass, a quartet of actors go far beyond the facile surface of suburban life and move into the desperation, fears, and hopes of people who have found themselves balancing on a very high and very precarious ledge.

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The characters inhabit a metaphorical Detroit. It's an unnamed, once-proud suburb that has become a place where neighbors barely know neighbors. Longtime neighborhood couple Ben and Mary do an unusually neighborly thing and invite next-door newcomers Sharon and Kenny over for dinner.

That sets off an uneasy relationship among the four, as D'Amour explores the turmoil that is just beneath the surface for each character. This gives a chance for each of the four excellent actors to excel in their roles, from John Middleton's lost Ben, a middle-manager squeezed out of work by the recession; to Angela Timberman's Mary, who is angry at her husband and life in general; to Tyson Forbes's Kenny, a recovering addict and free spirit who wants to do good things, but has a knack of mucking it up.

Anna Subdberg's Sharon eventually steals the show. Sharon is paired with Kenny, as the unusual new neighbors who have a shady (and not always consistent in the telling) past. Sundberg's skill at crafting intriguing characters comes to the fore here, as we get a sense of someone who feels they could be so much more in this life if they could just get their shit together.

The actors often do brilliant work under Sass's direction, from a quiet late-night scene between Sundberg and Timberman that cuts to the heart of the characters; to a wild show-ending party scored to the strains of Prince's "Sexy MF."


Friday through May 25
The Jungle Theater
2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.822.7063 or visit online.

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Jungle Theater

2951 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408


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