In ‘Appropriate,’ Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Subverts Tradition

March 17, 2014 2:08 AM

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In ‘Appropriate,’ Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Subverts Tradition

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins admits he is a thief. This is a refreshing and useful confession. For as you watch “Appropriate” — his very fine, subversively original new play at the Pershing Square Signature Center — you’re sure to find yourself thinking of a host of literary antecedents for this seemingly traditional family melodrama.

From the first scene, in which a road-weary young couple’s spooky entrance into a derelict house summons the opening of Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child,” Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins’s story of one unhappy clan’s reunion in the shadow of death suggests a century-spanning anthology of similarly themed classics. On...

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