Posted in Benja Kay Thomas, Booty Candy, Jesse Pennington, Jessica Frances Dukes, Lance Coadie Williams, Phillip James Brannon, Playwritghts Horizons, Robert O'Hara

The intoxicating mix of "Bootycandy"

Phillip James Brannon and Jessica Frances Dukes
in the openiing scene in Robert O’Hara’s
“Bootycandy” at Playwrights Horizons
through October 12th. Photo (c) Joan Marcus.

To say “Bootycandy,” written and directed by Robert O’Hara, at Playwrights Horizons through October 12th, is brilliant is an enormous understatement.

It’s hard to say which episode of the seven vignettes O’Hara created was funnier, brighter, crisper as “Bootycandy” unrolled. Suffice it to say that each segment, standing alone, had its own kind of sparkle.

If there are not enough roles (and you know there are not) for black actors to display their talents, Robert O’Hara has tried to remedy the deficit, providing ample opportunity for this wonderful group of players to shine. In a phenomenally talented cast, with Phillip James Brannon taking the lead as Sutter, it is hard to pick a stand out. All these men and women put themselves whole-heartedly before us. In one uprroariously funny and incisive scene, Jessica Frances Dukes and Benja Kay Thomas dazzle as they play four disparate characters. The one white performer, (Jesse Pennington) in the ensemble of five gets to strut his stuff too, playing a range of parts.

“Bootycandy” exposes both its process and artifice as the chapters of Sutter’s life emerge and merge as one. Sutter’s progress from boy to man in a homophobic world is about sense and sensuality. “Have you lost your mind in the real world?,” is a phrase his mother inherits from his grandmother, and uses to answer many of his life questions.

Sutter (Phillip James Brannon) with his granny (Lance Coadie Williams) in a scene from
Robert O’Hara’s “Bootycandy.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

‘I don’t write about white people,” Sutter says definitively in the “Writers Conference” sketch that closes out Act I. Sutter, the stand in for the author, is a mixture of innocence and understanding. O’Hara, too, writes about all people. His central character happens to be a young gay black man, finding his way.

Sutter (Phillip James Brannon) with his sister (Benja Kay Thomas), mother (Jessica Frances Dukes) and stepfather (Lance Coadie Williams) in a scene from Robert O’Hara’s “Bootycandy.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Bootycandy” is a heady cocktail of styles and wisely observed details. The fact that its humor is gently satirical does not mean that it lacks bite and insight. Did we mention that Robert O’Hara’s play is brilliant? It truly is.

For more information on “Bootycandy,” please visit www.PHnyc.org.