April 24, 2012
BOSTON — In the late 1950s, Lucy and Rex Taylor, a well-to-do African-American couple living in Boston’s South End, aspire to move to a nearby suburb to provide a better life for their two daughters. Unable to purchase a home in a segregated neighborhood themselves, they pay Patty Ann and Joe Donovan, a struggling Irish family to “ghost-buy” the house on their behalf and then sign over the deed. Fifty years later, Lucy’s granddaughter Hannah lives in the house with her family, where she grapples with the contemporary racial and social issues that stem from living in a primarily white community. When Lucy dies and leaves the house to Hannah and her sister Nessa, the now elderly Donovans return and ask for “their” house back.
Though the play is not autobiographical, Greenidge writes what she knows. Her grandparents moved from Boston to Arlington in the '60s. It’s an era that Greenidge captures in her play. In toggling between 1950s and the 21st century, "The Luck of the Irish" explores the timeless themes of race, class, and intergenerational conflict.
The play's director, Melia Bensussen, praises Greenidge's script. "The core, emotional truth sang to me the first time I read this play. It's so honest. There are no villains. There are no heroes. There are human beings trying to make the right choices….It's also about the struggle of being a parent. When you see Hannah in this perfect storm of race, class and modern parenting, she has a wonderful monologue, and I don't know a working mother who has seen the play and not been utterly recognized by Kirsten's writing, no matter race or class, because it outlines the emotional difficulty of what contemporary society asks of all of us. The construction of the Luck of the Irish and the complexity of all these lives revealed to us, without judgment, it's revelatory in this way," she said.
Although the plot would suggest a right and wrong, Greenidge said, "It was really important to me not to vilify anybody. You've got an African-American family and an Irish Catholic family together on stage in Boston, and you've got to do that stuff right."
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