Bruce Norris' "Clybourne Park" is expected to be provocative, witty and bitterly funny, and Yellow Tree Theatre's production doesn't disappoint. But it also provides something rarer: an intimate humanity that lends it a heartfelt sense of sorrow.

Picking up from Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," the Pulitzer Prize-winning play offers a first act set in 1959, as a black family prepares to move to a white neighborhood. In the second act, it's 2009 and a white family is moving into the same, now gentrifying, neighborhood. Two sets of characters — all played by the same actors — duck and dodge around the topics of race and identity, demonstrating that while vocabulary may have changed over 50 years, not much else has.

Director Craig Johnson and an outstanding cast have hilarious fun with this piece. Patrick Coyle and Laura Esping perfectly capture the deft, abbreviated code language of a long-married couple, while also communicating the grief that simmers beneath their relationship. Ricardo Beaird lends sharp comic timing to his roles, and he and Esping share a long, silent look at the end of the first act that's chilling in its evocation of the gulf between them. Dan Hopman, Ashley Rose Montondo, Jason Peterson and Joetta Wright offer fine work, as well.

Yellow Tree's intimate stage and Eli Schlatter's inventively realistic set create an ideal milieu for this strong production.


Clybourne Park

Where: 320 5th Av. SE., Osseo.

When: 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Ends March 6.

Tickets: $15-$25. 763-493-8733 or