Author Archive for: ‘SteveMurray’
Barbeque. Written by Robert O’Hara. Directed by Margo Hall. SF Playhouse, 588 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.
SF Playhouse opens its 15th season with Robert O’Hara’s wry take on a family’s drug intervention and in the process comically skewering our assumptions about race and poverty. Cleverly constructed, well-acted and wonderfully directed by Margo Hall, Barbeque illustrates the similarities between a white and black family dealing with the same issue. While the characters are mostly dysfunctional, drug-addled messes, O’Hara unites us rather than inflame our differences.
The O’Mallery family (James T, Lillie Anne Marie and Adlean) is staging an intervention for their addicted sister Barbara. But they don’t all agree with Lillie Anne’s idea to send Barbara to a yoga, massage and equine therapy retreat in Alaska. These characters, a cross between Southern lower income buffoons straight out of Del Shores’ Sordid Lives, and the angry Weston family of August: Osage County all have their own forms of addiction. The preparation for their ‘barbeque’ take on comic hilarity.
In the blink of an eye (or a few seconds blackout), the family transforms into an Africa-American version of the same family. Same names, same situations, equal hilarity. Both families have the committed interventionist (Lillie Anne (Anne Darragh/Halili Knox), the bubba-like moron brother James T (Clive Worsley/Adrian Roberts), the boozy slut Marie (Teri Whipple/Kehinde Koyejo), and the chain-smoking wise-ass meddler Adlean (Jennie Brick/Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe).
O’Hara, who wondered why blacks weren’t often the focus of television shows, satirizes intervention in the first act. The actors chew up the scenery with the absurdity of their situations. When we do finally see black Barbara, she’s tied to a post and gagged. Her family is imploring her to accept the conditions of her rehab when right before she answers: “CUT”. A film crew appears and it’s a wrap, leaving the audience totally befuddled.
There’s more twist and turns in the more serious second act involving an Oscar-hungry African-American movie star/singer hell bent on producing, directing and starring in white Barbara’s juicy memoir. Director Margo Hall plays the jaded, caustic actress while Susi Damilano is superb as the author of her own fictitious story. From interventions, the mirroring of two comical families, to a satire on Hollywood and fame, O’Hara’s Barbeque is a lot to chew on and extremely satisfying.
Performances run through November 11, 2017. www.sfplayhouse.org 415.677.9597