The Huntington Theatre Company is currenty running the two hottest productions onstage in town right now: STICK FLY which has just been extended until March 28th at the Calderwood Pavilion, and BECKY SHAW which just opened at Huntington's mainstage last night! I'm still catching my breath--I saw them both in one day!!!
STICK FLY is the tale of one pivotal weekend in the life of an African-American family on Martha's Vineyard when two grown sons bring home their girlfriends to meet the family. Lydia R. Diamond's play initially erupts in hilarious, fast-paced dialogue; there are spiraling debates about class and race over Parcheesi and wine. But percolating beneath the posturing is a drama that pivots on a secret which is key to the complex family dynamics. The performances and staging are exciting, the denouement satisfying without being simplistic. I was grabbed by these warm and vibrant characters immediately, and was completely engaged in their "mirthful dysfunction." I left exhilarated!
Darker and deeper is the scary,funny, audacious dysfunctionality of BECKY SHAW, a Pulitzer prize finalist. The premise is a family coping with the fall-out from a father's death and secrets. It's a psycho-verbal-comic tour de force, revealing the dark underpinnings of dysfunction: how parents manipulate their children, what they give them, what they don't, how they enable or disable their offspring as they navigate the boundaries of intimacy. Believe it or not, this is all brilliantly funny in playwright Gina Gionfriddo's hands-- and shrewdly dramatic. The action ricochets off a blind date gone awry. Three 30-somethings await the arrival of the fourth: enter Becky Shaw--an emotional black hole who sucks their precarious world off its axis and into the whirling vortex of their deepest psychological drives. Her polar opposite and date for the evening is Max, as heavily defended as Fort Knox. Their encounter is dramatic dynamite. I couldn't take my eyes off the cataclysm; some of what's uttered on stage is downright cruel, outrageously funny, and all of it masterfully handled by a killer cast.
Last night's audience----many of us critics--leapt to our feet at the curtain, me with the thought of when, and how soon I could see it again! It's up until April 4!!
Now I'm going to call my mother.