Wednesday, February 18, 2015

STICK FLY • The Black Rep

The Black Rep continues its 38th season with Lydia Diamond's "Stick Fly", a family drama with a bit of a twist. The two Levay sons, Kent and Flip, are bringing their significant others over for a weekend at their summer home on Martha's Vineyard. Like most residents on Martha's Vineyard, the Levays are wealthy, but unlike most residents, they're also black.

The patriarch of the family is Joe (Erik Kilpatrick), a neurosurgeon, who would have enough money on his own, but has married into more money through his wife's family, who's owned a shipping business that reaches back to slavery times. He shows up later, but first to arrive is Kent, (Chauncy Thomas) the youngest, with his fiancée, Taylor (Sharisa Whatley). He's a writer who is on the verge, after many career stops and starts, of becoming a full-fledged novelist, and Taylor is an entomologist. Her father was a distinguished academic, so Taylor grew up with prestige, but she didn't grow up with money -- estranged from her father, and overwhelmed by prospect of marrying into this affluent family. Flip (Reginald Pierre) is a plastic surgeon, who is bringing his girlfriend Kimber (Meghan Maguire), also highly educated, and white. Added to the mix is 18 year old Cheryl (Rhyan Robinson), university-bound, who is currently filling in for the duties of her mother, the Levay's ailing maid. The mother of the family, Michelle Levay, is mysteriously absent, and despite needling from the sons, Joe remains silent about her whereabouts. The advantages of money and education can't be enough to propel you past some things -- particularly race, and Diamond's script offers a heaping helping of soapy dynamics, family secrets and bombshells.

Thomas and Pierre display an easy chemistry as brothers, and Whatley and Maguire do great work as the studious Taylor and the slightly reserved Kimber. Kilpatrick comes across as a powerful father, still able to control his grown sons, and Robinson has some great moments as the entertaining but mature Cheryl -- letting the lightly veiled derision occasionally thrown her way roll off of her back. Colt Frank's scenic design makes wonderful use of Emerson's generously intimate performance space, with lighting provided by Jim Burwinkel, costumes by Ali Turns, and atmospheric sounds of the seashore provided by Robin Weatherall. Director Lorna Littleway moves the action along nicely, though Diamond's script seems exposition heavy during the first act. Still, "Stick Fly" is worth checking out and spending a provocative weekend with the Levays.


Written by Lydia Diamond
Directed by Lorna Littleway
Emerson Performance Center, Harris-Stowe State University
through February 22 | tickets: $35 - $45
Performances Thursday at 7pm, Friday & Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm

Sharisa Whatley* (Taylor), Chauncy Thomas* (Kent "Spoon"), Rhyan Robinson (Cheryl), Reginald Pierre (Flip), Erik Kilpatrick* (Joe Levay) and Meghan Maguire (Kimber).
* Member Actors' Equity Association

Scenic design by Colt Frank; lighting design by Jim Burwinkel; sound design by Robin Weatherall; costume design by Ali Turns; dramaturge, Diamond Skinner; stage manager, James Anthony.

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