Archive for June 2016
When “Stick Fly” opened on Broadway in 2011 one reviewer wrote, “Guess Who’s Coming to Martha’s Vineyard.” Yes, in this play an extremely wealthy African American family has owned an elegant summer home on the Cape for several generations. Evidently the family money comes from Great Grandad, a shipper. We’re not told what his cargo was but wouldn’t he be shipping at the time of the slave trade?
Playwright Lydia R. Diamond is, however, inviting her audience to review much more than the racial issue. This play is as much about class as it is about race, and there’s more than a little attention given to the inequity in male/female positioning and family values and dominance.
This production directed by Justin Emeka is a winner. Andrea Bush’s wonderful set establishes an environment of wealth, and Jessica Trundy’s lighting reinforces mood. Daddy’s a prominent surgeon who has provided superior educations for his sons. Flip’s a plastic surgeon, and Kent called Spoon (I haven’t figured out the symbolism of that) is a budding novelist despite the fact that he has four degrees in more prestigious fields.
Both young men are here with their current girlfriends. Taylor, Kent’s main squeeze, is gung ho for black women’s rights. She’s an entomologist who, among other experiments, glues flies onto the top of ice cream sticks to study their responses to different stimuli. Older brother Flip has with him the blonde, whiter than white, Kimber who has done extensive work and research in ghettos. Kimber’s the right class. Taylor is the right color.
In the background, always in the background, serving and cleaning up is good-natured Cheryl. She’s a bright young thing filling in for her ill mother who is the usual housekeeper, and, as we find out eventually, she’s even more than that.
The play includes much humor as it addresses the four significant issues (race, class, sexism, and family dynamics). For the most part, the performances capture all the emotional highs and lows of the script. Especially good are Tyler Trerise and Reginald André Jackson as the brothers and Chantal DeGroat and Shama Roget as the girlfriends.
You will leave this theatre with much to think about over the next few days.
Through June 19, presented by Intiman Theatre Festival at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S., Seattle (206-441-7178 or intiman.org).