A mountain of lime green Jell-O shots greeted theatergoers in the lobby of the Windy City Playhouse on Saint Patrick’s Day. A brash, acerbic, overly sweet welcome, and yet a relatively tame prelude to a bold production of Bootycandy, written and directed by Robert O’Hara.
The play contains what at first appear to be a series of vignettes linked, if narrowly, by common thematics: the expression of desire and the negotiation of gender and class identities in primarily black settings. Concluding the first act is a conference panel at which four exasperated African American playwrights indulge an exasperating white moderator by describing current works in progress—works that we, the audience, have just witnessed. If this mise en abyme comes across as somewhat of a gimmick, the second act cleverly mashes up the different storylines, in addition to abolishing the boundary between said storylines and the brand of meta-commentary on display in the conference scene. What emerges from this creative chaos is an impressionistic epic that covers the journey from childhood to adulthood of Sutter, a black gay man.
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