09/19/2012 08:54 am ET

Playwright Lisa D'Amour On "Detroit" and the Vultures of Mid-Size American Decline

Lisa D’Amour’s “Detroit” is actually set, as the program indicates, in “A ‘first-ring’ suburb of a mid-size American city.” But the Motor City in this dark comedy at Playwrights Horizons is a metaphor for the rot that afflicts the homes of her characters and the economic instability of their respective lives. Mary, a paralegal, and husband Ben, a recently down-sized financial officer, are desperately trying to hold onto their bourgeois existence when it's upended by their new neighbors, recovering drug addicts Kenny and Sharon. He works in a warehouse, she in customer service. But the surface rituals of “being neighborly” — backyard barbecues, exchanged confidences — are exposed, often hilariously, as the two worlds collide.

D’Amour herself has occupied many different worlds. “Detroit,” a Pulitzer finalist, is more conventionally constructed than much of her previous work. She is best known as a performer and co-writer of the Obie-Award-winning PearlDamour, the interdisciplinary performance company, which she formed with Katie Pearl. They’ve presented their improvisatory, epic-length pieces in Minneapolis, Austin, and New York City.

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