BWW Review: Fuse Theatre's BOOTYCANDY Is a Hilarious and Thoughtful Meta-Play About Identity and Society
It was the during the second scene of Robert O'Hara's BOOTYCANDY, now on stage care of Fuse Theatre Ensemble as part of the OUTwright Theatre Festival, that I realized I'd had it all wrong. From the title and description, I expected a funny play about a young man struggling with being queer in the African American community. To be sure, BOOTYCANDY is that. But it's also a searing social commentary about attitudes toward race, gender, sexual orientation, and sexual identity, and the often ridiculous assumptions society makes based on all of those things.
So, what happened in that second scene?
Gerrin Delane Mitchell, in the role of Reverend Benson, took on a church rumor mill (the "I heard" people) for suggesting that some of the young men in the choir out to be kicked out because they often look and smile at each other in a way that makes some people uncomfortable. It's a brilliant monologue, and Mitchell delivers it with a passion that could stir one to convert. It took the audience a while to calm down.
BOOTYCANDY is a series of vignettes. Many of them depict episodes in the life of Sutter, a young gay man played by Charles Grant. Others, like the Reverend Benson monologue, are only related in theme. In a couple of scenes, the play steps out of itself entirely to comment on the process of playwriting itself. It's a puzzle that you don't see the picture for until the very end.
I loved it. The cast, which also included Shareen Jacobs, Shani Mari Harris-Bagwell, and John Carr, was excellent, deftly juggling the many ideas and emotions at play.
BOOTYCANDY runs at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center through June 30. You'll find more details about the show and the rest of the OUTwright Theatre Festival here.