Broadway Review: Stick Fly
Family dysfunctions always make for great theater, but playwright Lydia R. Diamond manages to make those dysfunctions funny in Stick Fly. She also adds in issues of race, class, and identity into the mix to make it an evening where the audience absorbs its effects on American society while still making it an evening for amiable entertainment.
The story is about a black family, the Levays, who are wealthy and have a vacation home in Martha's Vineyard. The two Levay brothers, Spoon and Flip, spend a weekend and bring their girlfriends to introduce them to family; one girlfriend, Taylor, is black, and the other girlfriend, Kimber is white. Spoon is the sensitive, directionless brother who finally finds his calling in writing but their father, Joe (a neurosurgeon), considers it a frivolous endeavor. Flips is the successful plastic surgeon and has a callous attitude towards women. Taylor is smart, self-absorbed, and grapples with many things during the play, her prejudice towards Kimber, her insecurity about money and class because she is considered the poor relation in her family, and biggest of all, her sense of abandonment. Kimber tries to fit in with the family while defending herself against Taylor's prejudice.
As the weekend unfolds, family dysfunctions and secrets are revealed to the audience and one can sense an explosive denouement brewing when these secrets come out. What one did not expect from a play about these tragedies is a comedy. One ends up laughing at the ironies and unexpectedly funny interplay between the characters, even at the most serious of moments.
Dule Hill, who plays Spoon, is the best known of the actors if you are familiar with the cable series, Psych. Mekhi Phifer (Flip), Tracy Thoms (Taylor), and Ruben Santiago (the father) are familiar charactor actors that you would have seen in various movies and series. The ensemble acting is done very well. Director, Kenny Leon, manages to keep the play moving without getting the characters too bogged down in pathos. Two characters that are actually pivotal to the play are one dimensional and detracts from the final scene. The stage setting is artfully made and brilliant. Stick Fly is being shown at the Cort Theatre, one of the smaller stages in the theater district, and perfect for the play. It creates an intimate setting and you are able to see the actors up close and hear very well.
Broadway has a big problem. This play, produced by R&B singer, Alicia Keys, should be watched because it's good theater, but with tickets at over $100 a pop, it's pricey for amiable entertainment. This play would be great as an off-broadway choice but marketing is too underdeveloped for that entire segment.
Stick Fly at the Cort Theatre
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