Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

Aurora Theatre

Also see Patrick's review of Jarrod Spector: A Little Help from My Friends and Richard's review of Passersby

Luisa Frasconi, Amy Resnick, Jeff Garrett,
and Patrick Kelly Jones

Aurora Theatre is presenting the Bay Area premiere of Lisa D'Amour's challenging play Detroit, which vividly captures our present economic problems. In the playwright's intense world, there are two kinds of people: planners and drifters.

Detroit takes place in an unnamed American suburb that could near Detroit, or it could even be Daly City. The neighborhood is going to the dogs since the houses were built cheaply following World War II. Mary (Amy Resnick) and Ben (Jeff Garrett) have been working hard to pay the mortgage on their scruffy home. He has been laid off from the bank and has decided to begin his own Internet financial-counseling concern. So far, the website has shown little progress.

Sharon (Luisa Frasconi) and Kenny (Patrick Kelly Jones), who are a generation younger, have moved in next door. They are the exact opposite of the older married couple and are looking to make a fresh start following a stretch in drug rehab; both are currently unemployed. Oh, and they don't have a stick of furniture in the house.

The young couple strive to copycat their steady mentors, but when it arises that Mary has a drinking problem and Ben is jobless both households begin to reevaluate the rewards of delayed satisfaction against temptations of the moment. The 100-minute no-intermission play takes place mostly around barbecues in either of the neighbors' backyard. Things get friendly, real friendly, as these unlikely couples develop relationships.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, and nervous breakdowns are discussed in this fast-pace drama. The New York Post called Detroit "funny as hell" and, yes, there is plenty of ludicrously funny dialogue.

The ensemble is exceptional and Amy Resnick delivers an astounding performance as Mary. Jeff Garrett gives a great performance as Ben. Patrick Kelly Jones is terrific as Kenny, especially toward the end of the play in his soliloquy about two guys just going out for a night on the town. Luisa Frasconi is beautifully kooky as the ex-druggie Sharon.

Mikiko Uesugi's set, with its side-by-side backyards, does a great deal to familiarize the audience. Lighting designer Kurt Landisman and costume designer Christine Crook add nicely to the enjoyment of the play. Director Josh Costello gets at the playwright's obstinate ideas about disenchantments and desperation.

Detroit plays through July 19th, 2015, at the Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison Street, Berkeley. For tickets call 510-843-4822 or visit The theatre will opens its 24th season with Marisa Wegrzyn Mud Blue Sky opening August 28th and running through September 27th.

Photo: David Allen

- Richard Connema