Immediate Family Theater Review – A Dysfunctional Family Comedy For All



Immediate Family - Cynda Williams, Bryan Terrell Clark, Kamal Angelo Bolden Photo by Center Theatre

Set in the luxury of Hyde Park, Illinois,  the play Immediate Family, now running at the Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center, is a study is comedic study in dysfunctional family relationships. 


Immediate Family - Mark Jude Sullivan Photo by Center Theatre

When Jesse (Bryan Terrell Clark) returns for a wedding to his family home after a long three year absence, he brings back secrets - or what he thinks is a secret.  Not only is he gay, but his partner, Kristian (Mark Jude Sullivan), who will be coming to the wedding is white.  As it turns out, several family members have secrets they are hiding.


Immediate Family - Bryan Terrell Clark - Photo by Center Theatre

Evy  (Shanesia Davis) , the sister and head of the household, is determined to uphold African-American traditions and keep everything in the immediate family. She resents any outsiders, even the Ronnie (Cynda Williams), their half-sister, and especially incensed that her brother is not only gay, but considering a relationship with a white man.

Immediate Famiy - Mark Jude Sullivan and Bryan Terrell Clark - Photo by Center Theatre

While the rest of the family try to accept Kristian, Evy stubbornly refuses to do so.  


Immediate Family - Cynda Williams Photo by Center Theatre

It's Guess Who's Coming To Dinner - with a twist.  While the characters in the play are black, the story applies everyone.


Immediate Family - Shanesia Davis - photo by Center Theatre

The play makes one think about one's own prejudices and feelings - our ethnocentric boundaries as well as our hetero/homo sexual ideas.


Immeidate Family - Photo by Center Theatre

The comedy wasn't laughing out loud, but rather ironic comedy. Anyone with an extended family can pick out relatives - black, white. Italian, Jewish, etc., and can identify with characters in the play and it hones in the fact that beneath it all, our blood is all red. We are one human race.


Immediate Family - Photo by Center Theatre

Written by Paul Oakley Stoval and shepherded by award winning/ director actress Phyllis Rashad, Immediate Family stars Kamal Angelo Bolden (Tony), J. Nicole Brooks (Nina), Bryan Terrell  Clark (Jesse); Shanesia  Davis (Evy), Mark Jude Sullivan (Kristian), Cynda Williams (Ronnie)  with understudies – Nikki Crawford, Veralyn JonesJarrod M. Smith, and Kevin Tobias


Immediate Family - Photo by Center Theatre

The fabulous scenic design was done by John Jacovelli, lighting  by Elizabeth Harper, costume by Esosa, while Carol F. Doran did the wig and hair design.   Original music and sound was performed by Joshua Horvath.    David Blackwell served as Production Stage Manager.  Stage manager was Michelle Blair with Michael Ritchie as Artistic Director and  Stephen Rountree as the Managing Director.  Douglas C. Baker is the Producing director with Kelley Kirkpatrick as the associate artistic director, Gordon Davidson as the founding artistic director and Nausica Stergiou is the general manager of the Mark Taper Forum.


Immediate Family - Photo by Center Theatre

Playing from May 3, 2015 to June 7, 2015, Immediate Family will be performed at the Mark Taper Forum on Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m. ; Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.   There is no performance on Mondays.   Tickets run $25-85 and are available from the Center Theatre Group (135 N. Grand Ave, LA) or by calling 213 628 2772.  Parking prices vary from $9 to $20.  

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