To See: Neighbors
Photo courtesy of the New York Times
“Have you seen the new neighbors?,” press notes ask. “Richard Patterson is not happy. The family of black actors that has moved in next door is rowdy, tacky, shameless, and uncouth. And they are not just invading his neighborhood—they’re infiltrating his family, his sanity, and his entirely post-racial lifestyle.”
I just purchased tickets to go see the new Branden Jacobs-Jenkins play “Neighbors” at the Public Theater in a few weeks. The play is a commentary on race and relationships in America, and it is supposedly as hilarious as it is intense. The New York Times writes:
For Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, the author of “Neighbors,” the play amounts to an investigation of “a 300-year history of black people in the theater,” and minstrelsy was its undeniable origin. For audience members, however, “Neighbors” may come as one of the most sustained shocks of this theater season, as they are forced to respond to a depiction of minstrel characters that does not go down as easily satirical or subversive.
The full-length play, rather, is partly a study of black identity and self-loathing as experienced by the Crows’ highly discomfited next-door neighbor, who is black. He, his white wife and their daughter interact with the blackface family — Mammy, Zip, Sambo, Jim and the “pickaninny” Topsy — as the Crows engage in a variety of outrageous acts involving watermelons, their genitals, falling-down pants and exaggerated antebellum dialects.
New York Times – New Play Puts an Old Face on Race