Friday, April 14, 2017

Lyric Stage Company of Boston Presents "Barbecue" by Robert O'Hara - This BBQ Is No Sunday School Picnic!

Lyric Stage Company of Boston is presenting a play entitled "Barbecue" by Robert O'Hara, known to Boston audiences for his play "Bootcandy." Summer L. Williams directed that play for Company One, and she directs this production for the Lyric. She is a faithful and visionary interpreter of Mr. O'Hara's provocative work. This is a BBQ in which the meat does not fall easily off of the bones! There is a lot to chew on in this drama. There are challenging complications presented at many levels - addressing issues of racial stereotyping by using innovative staging and even a bit of reductio ad absurdum to hammer home the point. In the same vein as playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins in "An Octoroon," Mr. O'Hara uses exaggeration of stereotypes to debunk stereotypes. He shows us that dysfunction is not limited to one race or social class. The author also asks us to struggle with the questions: "Can there be truth within a lie? Can there be beauty inside of horror?"

It is clear from the moment an audience member enters the theater that the whiff of something unusual cooking is in the air. Instead of a program, each patron is handed a single sheet of paper that reads: "Yes, we have programs. But you'll have to wit til intermission to get one. And it will be worth the wait! (We promised you surprises . .)" There are surprises galore. It is a bit luke ingesting meat from a turducken. First you taste the savory turkey flesh - white meat and dark - and then comes the very different flavor of duck, followed by chicken cooked in a very special way. The play we watch in Act One, Scene One differs from what we see in Scene Two, and differs yet again in Act Two.

It took me a while to warm up to this unusual play. But once I realized what the playwright was up to, I was hooked. The opening scenes are raucous, ribald and rollicking. Four siblings from the O'Mallery clan have reluctantly gathered in a public park ostensibly to give their sister Barbara - a.k.a. Zippity Boom - a treat of her favorite barbecue. But the real reason is to mount an intervention to persuade Barbara to go to rehab. The family has already lost two siblings to the ravages of drug and alcohol abuse, and Zippity Boom seems well on her way to becoming the next victim.

Cast Members
"Barbecue" by Robert O'Hara
Lyric Stage of Boston
Through May 7
But we learn near the end of Act One that all is not as it appears to be on the surface. To judge this play by the first act would be tantamount to having judged the results of Super Bowl LI by the score of 3-28 that greeted viewers halfway through the 3rd quarter. Like Belichick and Brady, Mr. O'Hara has some trick plays up his sleeve, and the formidable and diverse cast execute on that strategic plan without fumbling the ball.  Cast members are: Ramona Lisa Alexander, Sarah Elizabeth Bedard, Lyndsay Allyn Cox, Bryan T. Donovan, Jackie Davis, Adrianne Krstansky, Deb Martin, James R. Milford, Christine Power, Jasmine Rush.

Set design is by Jessica Pizzuti, Costumes by Tyler Kinney, Lighting by Jen Rock, Sound by David Wilson.

I have been told that several performances are already sold out, so I encourage you to click on the link below, order your tickets, and get ready to sink your teeth into a "Barbecue" unlike anything you have tasted before.

Lyric Stage Website



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