Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Stick Fly"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark

"Stick Fly"

by Lydia R. Diamond
Directed by Kenny Leon

Scenic Design by David Gallo
Set Design & Construction by Nada & Steven Kane
Lighting Design by Allan Lee Hughes
Costume Design by Reggie Ray
Sound Design by Timothy J. Thompson
Casting by Alaine Alldaffer
Production Stage Manager Kathryn Most
Stage Manager Josiane M. Lemieux

Taylor.........Nikkole Salter
Kent ("Spoon")...Jason Dirden
Cheryl.............Amber Iman
Flip.......Billy Eugene Jones
Joe LeVay...Wendell W. Wright
Kimber..........Rosie Benton

If you'd like to know how women talk among one another with no men present you should get yourself over to the Boston Center for the Arts --- soon. The Wimberly performance space there is big enough to have a balcony, but the entire run of Lydia R. Diamond's "Stick Fly" in a Huntington Theatre Company production, in cooperation with D.C.'s Arena Stage, may sell out before you can get there. If you're lucky enough to find a seat you may notice that this bouncy, sophisticated comedy of contemporary manners --- set in a rich inter-racial-family mansion on Martha's Vineyard --- sets different parts of its audience laughing at different lines. Black/White moneyed/poor young/old and men/women conflicts and confidences all crackle throughout this incisive and insightful examination of how we irritate one another --- and how we get along.

Here both sons of the occasionally autocratic surgeon Joseph LeVay (Wendell W. Wright) bring home fiancees. Kent (Jason Dirden), who has sold his first apparently excellent novel --- though dad would rather he get a real job --- has chosen an uppity, outspoken feminist entomologist (Nikkole Salter), while his older surgeon-brother (Billy Eugene Jones) introduces his "Italian" (read "White"!) choice (Rose Benton). Rounding out the cast is Amber Iman as young Cheryl, substituting for her mother, the LeVay's maid, while her Mom and Dr. LeVay's wife occasionally dip into the plot by telephone.

Each of these solid, well-rounded characters comes with a world-view built of life experiences that make them by turns defensive and forgiving at inadvertent slights; and some of them have secrets that revelation could hurt. It is the intention of the plot, as people try to stay civil while they grate on one another's nerves, to meld these vocally independent souls into a genuine family by final curtain. And, wonder of wonders, despite sincere emotion and delightfully spontaneous realistic dialogue, Lydia Diamond brings it off.

Of course, this triumphant Bostonian playwright has the help of Director Kenny Leon, Reggie Ray's costumes under Allen Lee Hughes' lighting, and a large and sumptuous set by David Gallo to play on. There's a kitchen stage-right where the women, in two's or three's, can let down their hair while the two boys or the men take on one another in a book-lined living-room. There, the group dabbles periodically in games. Of "Scrabble" at one point someone winning admits "Of course you're bored; this is a boring game! You can't enjoy it --- the only way to get any fun out of it is Winning!" Diamond, Leon, and their cast all tear into "Stick Fly" with exactly that intention --- and win they do.

Get your tickets while you can.........

( a k a larry stark )

"Stick Fly" (19 February - 27 March)
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
1 (617)266-0800

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide