Who would have the courage to take a bizarre play with a twist I defy you to figure out until the final moments and set it outside in October? Kevin Broccoli, of course.
Epic Theatre’s Artistic Director has taken Robert O’Hara’s comedy-with-a-message and set it in a patio behind Artists’ Exchange at 50 Rolfe St. in Cranston, where the setting is a public park.
Two families – one white and one black – have gathered around picnic tables and grills for the purpose of creating an intervention for one of their addicted siblings. We watch the (dare I say) white trash family as they prepare a festive party atmosphere to lure their sister, Barbara, aka Zippity Boom, into their web to convince her to go to rehab in Alaska. We even see people arrive in cars, something you can’t do on a stage.
The scene shifts from stage right to stage left, where a black family is involved in a similar venture. They are dressed in similar attire and share similar dialogue, although with a different vernacular.
What the heck is going on? The scene ends with two words that may give you a clue, but probably only in retrospect.
The second act opens with two women sitting on their respective picnic tables. They are both in rehab. One has written her memoirs, while the other has agreed to play her in a movie she is sure will win her an Oscar.
The raucous comedy of the first act suddenly becomes quite serious.
Where is this all going?
To tell you where it goes would be to spoil a very clever twist and a powerhouse ending to this unusual, sometimes fragmented play, but once you are there, you’ll get it.
“Barbecue” is an interesting way to approach racial issues, drug abuse and dysfunctional families. Brava to director Tammy Brown for taking this play and adding some realism and snappiness to it. While you may be overwhelmed at times, stick with it. You should be surprised and satisfied at the end.
The 10-member cast does a great job in creating somewhat stereotypical families, while Kelly McCabe and Angelique Dina have their chances to shine as the two Zippity Booms. You may even recognize the voice of Ricardo Pitts-Wiley in the hilarious closing scene. Be warned that there is profanity.
And if you think this setting is bizarre, Broccoli has his next play set at an indoor pool.
“Barbeque” continues through October 21. While we saw the play on an unusually warm night, you may need a jacket if the weather turns.
For more info and reservations check out www.epictheatre.org.