Snobby co-ops and the people who mock them

Nov.November 15, 2007 04:37 PM

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but Charles Grodin knows you can judge a co-op by it residents. The title of his latest play says much about the sordid underbelly of New York City co-ops: “The Right Kind of People.” Grodin’s one-act, which opened in New York in January and runs through early March, chronicles the hoops prospective owners must leap through in their quest for approval by a fashionable Fifth Avenue co-op board.

Grodin, the actor, talk-show host, and author, uses the play to explore unspoken (at least, publicly) issues that go into a board’s decision on whether to approve or disapprove. Surprise — it’s not just about money: Race, gender and the elusive quality of social status all come into play. One co-op board character, for instance, knocks a prospective owner because “he buys his clothes off the rack.” With a successful premiere in San Francisco last year, “The Right Kind of People” is now on at the 59E59 Theaters on East 59th Street until at least Mar. 5.

Grodin himself served from 1986 to 1992 on the co-op board of a Fifth Avenue building, and said the experience cried out for mockery. “Before you can purchase an apartment in these prime buildings, you must present yourself before the board so they can determine your worthiness to live in their midst,” Grodin said. “Sound like the stuff of grand comedy? I thought so, too.”


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