San Diego Repertory Theatre presents Detroit by Lisa D’Amour as the fifth production of the company’s 38th season.
By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán
A young couple, Ben and Mary (played by Steve Gunderson and Lisel Gorell-Getz) are comfortably settled into their suburban lifestyle just outside a major American city. Then Sharon and Kenny, a pair of free spirits (Summer Spiro and Jeffrey Jones) suddenly move into the long-empty house next door.
Playwright Lisa D’Amour uses this setting to challenge the American cultural assumptions about status, comfort, ambition, and community. The New York Times describes how the setting– “A friendly suburban barbecue spirals into a delirious, dangerous bacchanal…”
“It is very much about the American dream. The title is a metaphor for the American dream that was once very popular and real likable… or manifests that, for a lot of people, it is now no longer possible in response to the great recession that just happened” explained Sam Woodhouse, co-founder and artistic director of the REP who is directing this show.
Ben and Mary break out the booze and fire up the backyard barbeque to welcome their new neighbors. As a full moon rises in the night sky, the real truth telling begins. “The result of the loss that occurs in the play is that the characters find themselves in zero. When you get to zero… anything is possible. Everyone has a secret. What do you choose to be? Who is your secret self? If you choose anything you wanted to be, what would it be?” asked Woodhouse.
Audiences may also ask themselves what is really their American dream when watching Detroit. The plot is set in the year 2008. “What does security mean? What does safety mean? Those are several of the themes that operate in the play, which is somewhat of a fable.” The two couples represent two American energies, one brave and bold and the other, settled and more ‘together’ in what the director describes as ” a very funny play.”
“This play was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was awarded the Obie for the Best New American play in 2013. This is clearly a piece that these critics and professionals have noted as one of the best examples of contemporary playwriting in America; it is very much in the now and what is happening today in America” Woodhouse concluded. The actress Summer Spiro is making her professional debut with Detroit.
There will be a few surrounding events before and after the show along its engagement. You can meet the actors on March 7th with a Q&A session after the show hosted by The REP’s Casting Director Jacole Kitchen. Music and poetry night on March 8th and you will be able to SPEAK UP! Saturday March 15th with REP literary manager Danielle Ward.
Detroit began February 22nd and will run until Sunday, March 16th at the Lyceum Space.
For prices and schedules please check out: www.sdrep.org
Alejandra Enciso Guzmán is an arts consultant and reporter in both Tijuana and San Diego. @Riselah / @Riselaheng