Last Updated September 5, 2023.
subUrbia shows a group of twenty-somethings hanging out in the parking lot of a convenience store in their hometown. The characters often use crass language to express their feelings. The play examines racism, identity, and what it means to live a middle-class suburban lifestyle.
Jeff is one of the main characters. He has not left his hometown since high school. He gives a speech about the futility of life:
Nothing ever changes, man. Fifty years from now we're all gonna be dead. And there will be another group of people standing here drinking beer, eating pizza, bitching about the price of Oreos and they'll have no idea we were ever here and fifty years after those suckers will be dust and bones and there'll be all these generations of suckers, all trying to figure out what the fuck they're doing on this fucking planet and it'll all be full of shit. It's all so fucking futile.
Jeff is dating Sooze, but while she dreams of moving to the city where she can pursue her dreams of performing, Jeff seems stuck in this suburban way of life with no future prospects. Jeff and Sooze argue about this:
Jeff: I could go to New York if I wanted to, but what's the point? So I can learn how to order a cappuccino? So I can get mugged by some crackhead? So I can see homeless people up close and personal?
Sooze: So what do you want to do?
Sooze: No one does nothing, Jeff!
Jeff: Okay, well, then I'm going to break new ground.
Sooze: New ground?!
Sooze: Taking one community college course on the history of Nicaragua while barely holding a job packing boxes?
Jeff seems to have the desire for ideas and a new life, but he does not actually pursue it or have a concrete plan the way Sooze does. Jeff struggles to know who he is, although he recognizes that he doesn't have a strong vision of personal identity:
Jeff: I'm saying I don't need a limousine to know who I am, alright?
Tim: Right on. You know what? He doesn't need to limo, man.
Jeff: I mean, you know, at least I admit I don't know. I know that things are fucked up beyond belief and I know that I have nothing original to say about any of it, alright? I don't have an answer. I don't have a fucking message.
Tim: Okay, great. Well, now he's crying. Are you guys happy?
Pony, a former high school classmate of Jeff's, arrives in a limo following his performance nearby. Pony is now semi-famous, and his character sings during the play.
Sooze's character also puts on a performance during the play. She shows her friends a performance piece that she is using to apply to the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Jeff argues with her:
Sooze: I am trying to communicate how I feel. You know? Raise consciousness. Make people think for a change.
Jeff: About what?
Sooze: About things that are important to me. Sexual politics, racism, global warming. Things!
Bee-Bee: Violence against women.
. . .
Sooze: I'm talking about idealism!
Bee-Bee: Responsibility! Progress!
Jeff: Idealism is guilty, middle-class bullshit.
Sooze: Cynicism is bullshit.
Jeff: I'm not being cynical. I'm being honest.
Sooze: But do you stand for anything? What do you stand for?
Nazeer is a South Asian immigrant who owns the convenience store where Jeff, Tim, and the others hang out. Nazeer is victim to racist remarks from the characters, especially Tim.
Buff: Yesterday I caught him practicing...
(This entire section contains 806 words.)
the Pledge of Allegiance. Boning up for the big test: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic . . . and to the Republic, one nation under God, invisible and with justice and mercy for all!"
Jeff: You forgot "liberty." And it's "indivisible," not "invisible."
Buff: I know it better than he does.
Tim: Of course you do. He has no right.
Jeff: Of course he has a right. He's trying to improve his situation. That's the American way. He's from a third world country. I respect him for that.
This passage is important because the characters tell us that Nazeer is trying to improve his situation. This puts Nazeer in contrast to the others, who are stuck in their hometowns getting drunk in parking lots almost every night. This also shows how much they hang in the parking lot, as Buff is able to overhear Nazeer practicing. Buff is making fun of Nazeer for trying to learn something new, although it seems that Buff is not a total genius and therefore not in a position to make fun of someone for not knowing something. We also see Tim's racism, as he looks down on Nazeer for not being from the United States.