Barbecue Review - A Good Old-Fashioned Family Party

There’s still time to heat the outdoor grill, pick up the dogs and burgers, cool the beer, and have a good old-fashioned barbecue. Written by award-winner Robert O’Hara and directed by award-winner Colman Domingo, BARBECUE does just that – with a twist. This clever play has surprises at every turn. Just when you think that you’ve “got it,” it wiggles out of your preconceived rut and takes off again. You’re never quite sure where this is going – which is just how this very funny play catches your interest and keeps holding it.  

Dale Dickey, Elyse Mirto, Frances Fisher, and Travis Johns - Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography

The family has decided that Barbara, what with her alcoholism and drug addiction, needs a push in the direction of sobriety. What better place to plead your case than at Barbara’s birthday barbecue party in the local park? Family members Lillie Anne (Yvette Cason and Frances Fisher), Adlean (Dale Dickey and Kimberly Hebert Gregory), James T. (Omar J. Dorsey and Travis Johns), and Marie (Elyse Mirto and Heather Alicia Simms) are gathered together to lower the boom on an unsuspecting Barbara (Rebecca Wisocky and Cherise Boothe). Instead of burgers, it may be Barbara who gets roasted.

Omar J. Dorsey, Yvette Cason, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, and Heather Alicia Simms - Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography

But wait! Is the family black or white? Are we in the present or in the past? Is this a comedy or a satire or a tragedy? What’s going on anyway? By frequent and unexplained scene changes, this very clever and often very amusing play keeps the audience guessing to the very end. The talented cast does an excellent job of creating a dysfunctional family which we can all relate to and laugh with. The visuals couple with the words to create a rollicking whole. Director Colman Domingo does a great job of helming this complex tale while making sure that each family member is a very distinct character and has a personality which remains separate from yet part of the family.

Rebecca Wisocky and Frances Fisher - Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography

Skilled scenic designer Sibyl Wickersheimer’s stage ably represents the only stable element in the piece – the place where it all happens. Kara Harmon’s costumes are often a hoot. Leopard skin, anyone? Lighting (Lap Chi Chu) and sound (Lindsay Jones) enhance the story like punctuation in a novel.

Cherise Boothe and Omar J. Dorsey - Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography

Overall, this is an entertaining play which should please even the most discriminating audience looking for a light and fun evening. Get ready to laugh – while you try to figure out what’s going on.

Cherise Boothe and Rebecca Wisocky - Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography

BARBECUE runs through October 16, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Tickets range from $43 to $84 (with discounts available for rush tickets 30 minutes before most shows). For information and reservations, call 310-208-5454 or go online.   

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