One could easily compare “Luck of the Irish,” Kirsten Greenidge’s work that is playing at LCT3’s new space at Lincoln Center, to last year’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Clybourne Park.” Both plays, for example, deal with discriminatory housing practices in the 1950s and the 2000s. But while the two works share common ground, they are fundamentally unique. Although “Clybourne Park” used irony and Brechtian distancing devices to satirize deeper social problems in American society, “Luck of the Irish” takes the opposite approach. The story is not about ghost-buying or the practice of white people fronting for black homebuyers, but instead it is about one family’s experience.
Lucy and Rex Taylor (Eisa Davis and Victor Williams) are the black couple of the 1950s. He’s a well-paid doctor and she’s a woman of taste — a snob. They want a home to raise their children, and they buy one with the help of the Donovans, a working-class Irish family led by a husband who refuses to work.
Fast forward to the 2000s, a similar device to “Clybourne’s,” but in “Luck” the two eras flow smoothly together rather than being separated by an intermission. Rex’s and Lucy’s grandchildren are now living in the house. Mrs. Donovan, who still has the deed, and is a different kind of snob than Mrs. Taylor, wants the house back. “There’s an order to these things. First comes the Protestants, then the Irish, then the Italians, then the blacks,” she says.
The play manages to reveal unexpected aspects of the African-American experience today — one grandchild can’t help seeing racism, whether present or not, and the other is too self-centered to notice either way.
However, “Luck” makes it a little too easy to reduce the flawed institutions and culture that promulgated an under-the-table apartheid system to a single antagonist. Mrs. Donovan simply appears to be a racist. Attempts are made to make her sympathetic, and in some ways she is. At the end of the night, it is too convenient and easy to write her off as an awful bigot opposite the open-minded audience.
It is relieving to view yourself as a morally sound observer of the regrettable moments of America’s history, to see it as something out of your hands. It is relieving because it is dishonest.
“Luck of the Irish” is playing now through March 10 at Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theater.
A version of this article was published in the Tuesday, Feb. 26 print edition. Alexander Tsebelis is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.
- Weekend Roam: Little Germany
- WSN Editorial Board reflects on spring semester events
- Strawberry Festival promises delicious, intergalactic fun
- Clive Davis Institute collaborates with DJ Swivel
- Best places to dine on dumplings
- 'Heroes' is not super enough for Xbox Live film program launch
- NYU SLAM sees victory through 'badidas' campaign
- Victoria Ettore elected student council president
- Hester Street Fair hosts diverse vendors, delicious food