Detroit, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday; 5 and 9 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; 2 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday; $23-$35. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300; Through November 17.
Rated 3.0

Detroit is a play with great potential that doesn’t quite deliver the satisfying payoff it first promises. The award-winning play by Lisa D’Amour about the unlikely friendship between two sets of neighbors takes us down a pretty entertaining road, but fails to find the more interesting paths. Instead, the plot increasingly becomes more sitcomesque with a strange, disjointed ending that feels a bit preachy and tagged on.

It’s a shame, since this play has so much going for it: a creative storyline and engaging dialogue delivered by a fearsome foursome cast of B Street Theatre regulars—Elisabeth Nunziato, Jason Kuykendall, David Pierini and Tara Sissom.

Detroit takes place in a typical suburban neighborhood that once held promise of a middle-class utopia but is now as tired and rundown as its residents. Mary (Nunziato) and Ben (Pierini), barbecuing in their backyard, put on a brave facade in front of new neighbors, despite the fact they’re reeling with Ben’s unemployment and Mary’s resentment and her love of liquor. The in-your-face new next-door neighbors Kenny (Kuykendall) and Sharon (Sissom) are pretty blunt right off the bat: recovering rag-tag addicts with no social charms or filters who are just trying to get through each day with little money and big urges.

The fascination is the unusual bonding that occurs between the improbable foursome and the influences both good and bad that seep between the two couples’ backyards. Between the raucous romps, there are some unexpected sweet moments that charm and humanize. It’s just too bad that the silly over-the-top antics supplant what could have been a more satisfying ending.