BWW Review: Intiman's BARBECUE Sizzles with Familial and Racial Tension
It's going to be very tough, Dear Readers, to tell you about the latest offering from Intiman Theatre, "Barbecue", as I don't want to give anything away. The show is packed full of twists, turns and misdirections that for me to tell you much would be tantamount to writing up a review of certain movies and sharing details like, Rosebud is a sled, Darth Vader is Luke's Father, or Bruce Willis is a ghost too. But I will try simply by saying that Robert O'Hara's play is quite engaging and filled with rich dialog and his script is only served by some outstanding performers.
For the sake of divulging only what the folks at the Intiman want divulged about the story I'll just give you their own little synopsis from the press release. It's safe enough. Set in a park in Middle America, the play features The O'Mallery family who is gathering to share some barbecue and straight talk with their sister Barbara, whose spiral of drugs and recklessness has forced her siblings to stage an open-air intervention. With the whiskey flowing, family dysfunction and stereotypes collide as the play poses the question: Is family worse than addiction?
That's really all they want you to know. In fact, they didn't even allow programs to be given out until intermission lest a big twist be revealed. But I can say that O'Hara's play deftly walks the line between raucous comedy and scintillating expose on race, family and what is truth. And his dialog is real and flows beautifully although chock full of profanity. I honestly couldn't care less about that but if that's going to be your sticking point then you have been warned. And director Malika Oyetimein keeps the words and the booze flowing nicely although I do take some umbrage to a few sight line issues as well as some difficultly hearing all the dialog. But that last one is more the fault of the quite cavernous Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute.
Minor qualms aside the ensemble of Shaunyce Omar, Angel Brice, Macall Gordon, Kamaria Harris, Eryn Joslyn, Lamar Legend, Charles Leggett, Rachel Pate, Carol Roscoe, and Cynthia Tewes manage the twisting and turning of the story and their own characters quite adeptly. I especially want to call out Harris and Joslyn who manage a truly riveting conversation in Act Two about ... well, I can't tell you that.
With all ambiguousness aside, however, I can say that the show is quite engaging from the get go and keeps you laughing even while they slip that little message in between the jokes. And so, with my three-letter rating system I give Intiman's "Barbecue" a crystal clear YAY. I just wish I could be as crystal clear with you on the story but it's better that I'm not.