Bootycandy: In brief
Writer-director Robert O'Hara (In the Continuum) takes a satirical look at growing up black and gay in the New York premiere of his anthology of interconnected sketches on related themes. Phillip James Brannon plays the central role.
Bootycandy: Theater review by Adam Feldman
The sixth sketch in Robert O’Hara’s tartly delectable anthology Bootycandy, just before intermission, takes place at a writers' conference at Playwrights Horizons. The moderator is a supercilious (and super-silly) white man, and the guests are four “emerging” African-American playwrights alleged to have written the preceding four vignettes, which vary in tone from outrageously funny (a wigged-out preacher’s sermon) to painfully sexual and emotional (a scene between a man and his drunk brother-in-law). The punch line of this Pirandellian joke, of course, is that one man—O’Hara—has actually penned all of them. He is large and contains multitudes, but only barely: They continually spill over the edges of his play.
Bootycandy’s satire provokes violent laughter, thanks in part to a fine cast. Phillip James Brannon is Sutter, the playwright’s gentle-miened stand-in; Jesse Pennington is various white men; and the expressive Benja Kay Thomas, Lance Coadie Williams and Jessica Frances Dukes play delightful exhibits in O’Hara’s version of George Wolfe’s The Colored Museum. (Clint Ramos’s ingenious sets and costumes add to the hilarity.) But laughter is not all that Bootycandy provokes. In the aggregate, as its scenes intersect, the show presents a view of black and gay identity in which blackness and gayness—and even a teenager’s sexual initiation by an older predator—do not inherently confer victimhood or moral superiority. One uproarious scene depicts a vicious lesbian divorce ceremony; a darker one finds Sutter and a queeny friend propositioned by a mentally unstable white man. From stones like these, varied and jagged, O’Hara crafts a captivating mosaic of someone who may or may not be himself.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE O’Hara tickles out the tensions within identities.
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