SpeakEasy Stage’s provocative BOOTYCANDY (playing through April 9th) has enough solid star turns in it to almost make you forget Robert O’Hara’s bizarre, disjoined script. At one point, women in orange prison jumpsuits put a stop to the show, complaining that what’s going on isn’t “in character” for the protagonist. (And they claim to be “British,” for some unexplained reason, to boot!) Their timing was perfect: That’s exactly what I was thinking about a character that breaks really bad. His violent behavior is just not believable. And convincing a friend to go along? Not believable, either and the playwright can’t get away with it simply by commenting on it.
Clever skits start out hilariously (like Maurice Parent’s adorable, inquisitive six year old or Johnny Lee Davenport’s righteous Reverend Benson), then wear out their welcome when they run too long. It’s as if O’Hara can’t find an ending for the vignette(s) but when he gets serious (John Kuntz convincing a mugger to leave him alone), his writing soars. Lucky for O’Hara, director Summer L. Williams has a dream cast to inhabit all the loosely connected roles.
I’m sorry to say I also had problems identifying recurring characters because of their shift in age or situation but what was always clear was the caliber of performance. From Tiffany Nichole Greene’s exasperated young mother trying her best not to address a six year old’s questions about sex—to Jackie Davis’ terrifying alpha mom at the dinner table—to the aforementioned powerful men in the play, the cast is the reason to see this wobbly, pretty raw script. Note: There is nudity and adult content, as they say at the movies.