The Huxtable’s live on. That is, Cliff and Clair Huxtable of the extremely successful 1980’s The Cosby Show. Only in STICK FLY, a fine new family drama/comedy by Lydia R. Diamond which has recently opened at the Cort Theatre, this triple A (affluent Afro-American) family go by the name LeVay.
Daddy LeVay, a neurosurgeon (Joe – Ruben Santiago-Hudson) is awaiting the arrival of his wife who will be spending the weekend in their family home with their two sons and their girl friends on Martha’s Vineyard – not Oak Bluffs, thank you.
Oak Bluffs being the section that has a major Afro-American history on the Island. Mrs. LeVay inherited her beautiful home in the more desirable location herein superbly designed by David Gallo – living room with African art decorating the walls, books on the shelves, lots of wine in the glasses and board games (Trivial Pursuit, Parcheesi and Scrabble to wit) a kitchen, two staircases (one for the black servant/maid) leading upstairs and an outside area with a seaside view.
Very posh. Very “Wow!” inducing as Taylor (a spunky and verbose bug collector Tracie Thoms) gasps as she enters and sees the “cottage” for the first time with her boyfriend Spoon (Kent – Dule Hill) the younger of the two sons who wants to be a writer, unfortunately not what the Doctor ordered. His older more arrogant plastic surgeon brother Flip/Harold (Mekhi Phifer) has a surprise for all of them. His newest girl friend Kimber (Rosie Benton) is white.
Playwright Diamond has a lot more surprises in store as the extended and soon to be exposed dysfunctional family settles in discussing class, racism; waiting for mom to show up and dealing with Cheryl (Condola Rashad – daughter of Phylicia Rashad of the abovementioned TV program – giving a sensitive, amusing and altogether memorable performance) who is substituting for her ailing mom – their long time maid, and drinking until secrets are spilled resulting in audible gasps from the audience.
The writing is fresh and original and always interesting with lots of comedy and serious talk along the way. As her characters and plot twists develop is a pleasure to listen to as is the original music by Alicia Keys that accompanies the scene transitions in a lyrical and mood inducing manner – whatever that mood may be.
The fine tuned direction of Kenny Leon adds to his already glowing reputation as director of FENCES and THE MOUNTAINTOP. How he balances the seriousness and the comedy. How he gets nuanced performances from each of his actors. How entertaining, how in the moment, and how clever he can be, enriching the text throughout.
STICK FLY is that unexpected play that surprises, makes one think and is extremely entertaining on its own terms with nary a fly in the ointment.
www.stickflybroadway.com Photo: Richard Termine
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