Last night, Linds, me and about 100 other stage-junkies made the arduous trek, in the snow, out to Arena Stage Theater to see Stick Fly. By "trek" I mean we took our building elevator to the basement and walked through the covered, heated tunnel to the theater. But kudos to everyone else who braved the snow - it was a full house.
Let me just get this out of the way: I loved, loved, loved Stick Fly. Set in Martha's Vineyard - two brothers bring their girlfriend and fiance to meet the fam on an annual vacation. Obviously the family is well to-do but unlike the rest of the WASP island community - they are black.
Now race issue is definitely a part of the plot - but the there is a more universal connection to this witty comedy - it's family. We all know these characters - maybe you are one yourself - but even the opening scene when the housekeeper comes bopping down the stairs rocking to your ipod - you're hooked.
Cruising through two hours of side-splitting wise cracks, no really, I haven't laughed that hard since seeing Robin Williams, the family reunion raises serious questions about race relations and family dysfunctions. Now how is that funny? Because you feel like you're watching The Cosby Show, only the Huxtables have a few skeletons.
With zingers on the ease of prepping regular verses decaf coffee from the well-educated housekeeper to her solving the trivial persuit stumper question then quickly shooting back "what? I can't know that?"
Or the"Italian" (euphemism for white) girlfriend with a masters thesis on inner-city race relations trying to high five the brilliant but frosty fiance, on their common taste in literature, only to be left hanging by Taylor, still embittered by her alienation at Harvard by the "Becky's," (other WASPs.)
No let's talk stage presence. Aside from the hottie and equally awesome yale trained Billy Eugene Jones, playing Flip (the brother dating the "Italian"), the cast was dead on. There are several charged monologues that pivot the plot on a dime (don't want to spoil anything for you) but the two leading ladies, Amber Iman and Nikkole Salter, nailed them. Not just blasting through the lines, BTW we're talking 10 minute ass-ripping monologues - but they hit all the subtle nuances, and not so subtle tensions dug up by the racial and economical disparities, and good-old-fashioned family drama between the characters. It completely rocked the audience. Literally - one minute you're aching in compassion for the ladies - the next your doubled over in giggles - and then with a snap - right back.
By curtain call - we were on our feet in full applause - yes -before the cast made it to the stage.
If you're interested here are the details: Stick Fly runs January 1 – February 7, 2010 at Arena
Stage in Crystal City.