by Mike Hoban
‘Topdog/Underdog’ – Written by Suzan-Lori Parks; Directed by Billy Porter; Scenic and Costume Design by Clint Ramos; Lighting Design by Driscoll Otto; Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg. Presented by The Huntington Theatre Company, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston through April 9.
In “Topdog/Underdog” the Pulitzer Prize-winning tragicomic drama now being staged by the Huntington Theatre, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks gives us a front row seat into the lives of two damaged brothers alternately chasing/escaping a warped version of the American dream – one that is exclusively reserved for those on the lower rungs of society’s ladder. The vehicle for that dream happens to be “Three-card Monte”, a sucker’s game played by street hustlers in large American cities, but the allure of the fast-money-for-little-work scheme could be applied to any number of similar cons (drug-dealing, prostitution) embraced by those growing up in economically-distressed urban environments. And while the play focuses solely on the interplay between the troubled pair in this intense two-hander, the parents who abandoned them, as well as the love interest of one of the men, loom as large players in this raw and explosive work.