Downstate, at the Limits of Empathy

From Downstate, at Playwrights Horizons. Photo: Joan Marcus

Downstate wants to make you sit in discomfort as long as possible and see what lies on the other side. Bruce Norris’s play takes for its subject the lives of sex offenders. It holds its audience in both the reality of what they have committed and the lives they now live in a shabby group home in downstate Illinois with crumbling furniture, a broken window, and a generic inspirational poster encouraging “perseverance.” The very premise aims to spark a reaction, but the production is most effective

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