History and mystery

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  January 27, 2011

Written and directed by Steve Cosson, with songs by Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson composer Michael Friedman, In the Footprint is like The Laramie Project with cabaret songs, lurching video, and a sometime tongue in cheek. Alternately strident and piquant, it manages to make itself engaging without letting loose the righteous anger of agitprop — or agit-props, of which the show employs a few. Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, a sports fan and an advocate of the Atlantic Yards project, is represented by a basketball speaking into a microphone, pontificating architect Frank Gehry by a building model utilizing a cigar as a pointer. But these figureheads are for the most part unconventionally deployed talking heads. The people of Brooklyn, their arguments drawn verbatim from interviews, get gutsier treatment. And they're not all on the same side.

Fielding a fight that pitted citizen against citizen, In the Footprint presents African-American leaders, who foresaw affordable housing and jobs, scuffling not just with feisty white yuppies defending their gentrified territory but also with members of their own community. In the end, no surprise, the project survives but in compromised form. (The cheapened arena is said to resemble a George Foreman Grill.) This leaves no one in the winner's circle as the Civilians deliver their surprisingly sprightly epitaph for a neighborhood.

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