The Club at the George Street Playhouse

The Club. Courtesy georgestreetplayhouse.org
The Club. Courtesy georgestreetplayhouse.org

NEW YORK – The Club at the George Street Playhouse

What would you say or not say, do or not do, to get approval from the membership committee to join “The Club” so you could play tennis, swim, and just fit in?

Destructive Attitudes

The performance of Chris Bohjalian’s The Club at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick is filled with jokes, laughter, and startling, uncomfortable, in-your-face racism. It exposes destructive attitudes that rip apart neighbors, marriages, and friends.

Suburbia 1968

Bohjalian presents three married couples partying in suburbia in 1968, and alcohol fuels conversations. All sides of racism prevalent from that era come forward in their words and deeds. We are still experiencing it daily in our country and communities.

Family Feud

13-year-old Olive Barrows (Skyler Hensley) wakes to a family feud between her father, Richard (Frederick Weller), and mom, Anna (Ali Marsh), the morning after heavy-duty drinking with neighbors. Food, liquor bottles, and her broken records litter the room, a scene Olive has seen often.


The Cast of The Club at the George Street Playhouse. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The Cast of The Club at the George Street Playhouse. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Younger Second Wife

Anna caught Richard playing “Tonsil Hockey” with Marion Willows (Grace Experience), the much younger second wife of John (Brendan Ryan), the head of the club’s membership committee. Richard glimpsed Anna on John’s lap. Neighbors Peter Kendricks (Ryan George) and his wife Angela (Samaria Nixon-Fleming) also partied, but with no transgressions.

The big question still left unanswered after the evening of festivities is whether the tony club has voted the Kendricks, who are African American, in as members.

Vitriol

Peter shows up while Anna and Richard are fighting, wanting to know the answer. Richard doesn’t have the heart to expose the vitriol that went down with the committee and tells Peter to wait for a formal answer. Her husband’s lack of openness disgusts Anna, and she arranges another evening for all six individuals to discuss the issue openly.

A Place of Pain

Once again, alcohol heightens the temperament of all involved. All six adults willingly subject themselves to a place of pain that can never be repaired because of the lies and deceit surrounding their supposed friendship.

The Color Line

Olive is the wisest of them all, a compassionate teenager who can’t grasp the division the color line brings to her parents, the Kendricks, and the Willows. She agrees with her mom that 2025 will be just as racist. The audience’s silence certainly proved all agreed with this sad state of human frailty.

Lies We Live

“Lies we tell. Lies we live.” That statement at the end of the play tells the message of The Club. Humanity has learned little since 1968, and the uncomfortable laughter we all experienced during the 80-minute drama proves we need to do more to change the destructive sentiment of racism.

Racism Cripples

The Club brings much emotion to the forefront and proves racism cripples. It teaches the lesson we should strive to dispel racism in our communities, no matter what color we are.

The Club at the George Street Playhouse

The Club by Chris Bohjalian is running through March 17.

Cast

Starring Skyler HensleyFrederick WellerAli Marsh, Ryan George, Samaria Nixon-FlemingGrace Experience, and Brendan Ryan.

Artistic

Directed by David Saint; Production Stage Management by Samantha Flint; Production Management by Christopher J. Bailey; General Manager Scott Goldman; Casting by McCorkle Casting; Press by Print Shop PR.



The running time is approximately 80 minutes with no intermission.

The George Street Playhouse, 11 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of The Ally at the Public TheaterJelly’s Last JamThe Maid and the MezmerizerSeven Year Disappear, Until DarkThis is Not a Time of PeaceThe ConnectorAberdeen at the SOHO Playhouse, and The Days of Wine and Roses.


The Club at the George Street Playhouse

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