Parks's script is smart, ambitious, and provocative; it is also, as the previous quote suggests, occasionally heavy-handed on the macro cultural level, and Parks gives the brothers some rather leaden exposition to establish family backstory. But on the level of image and exchange, her writing is often striking, as when Lincoln tells Booth of watching his "assassins" upside-down in a metallic reflection, as if in a spoon; of watching white "housewives with their eyes closed, shooting more than once." Overall, Topdog/Underdog succeeds bracingly — as do DRC's exemplary actors — in exploring a legacy of iniquity within this one harrowing fraternal union.

TOPDOG/UNDERDOG | by Suzan-Lori Parks | Directed by Keith Powell Beyland | Produced by Dramatic Repertory Company, at the Portland Stage Studio Theater | through November 4 | dramaticrep.org

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