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LETTERS TO EDITOR
|A CurtainUp Review
By Jenny Sandman
Robert O'Hara's first play, Insurrection: Holding History, first conceived as his graduate thesis at Columbia University. In 1996, when he was an artist-in residence at the Public Theater, George C. Wolfe mounted the play on a wave of Wunderkind press. Critical response was mixed but the play received Newsday's 1996 Oppenheimer Award for Best New American Play and has had a continued life in regional theater. In the meantime O'Hara disappeared from the New York theater scene to write in L.A. Now, fortunately, he's back (literally and figuratively), with Booty Candy.
Booty Candy consists of ten short sketches, which O'Hara wrote and directed himself. As a whole, it is an uproarious and perceptive evening of theater, easily one of the best I've seen in recent memory. O'Hara has a sharp and satirical sense of humor, almost scathingly so at times. His biting wit is makes itself felt particularly in ""Dreamin' in Church,"" in which a black pastor rebukes his congregation for rumormongering-rebuking them for an entirely different reason than you might imagine. It is easily the most hysterical-- and the most shrewd-of all the sketches.
Another, "Scenework,"" skewers the self-absorbed pretentions of many actors. "The Beauty of Queens" provides a delightful send-up of Broadway and August Wilson.
Not all the sketches are funny. "Drinks and Desire" examines the complicated relationship between two gay men, also brothers-in-law to each other. "Dirt" looks at the state of global affairs and America's self-appointed role as world superpower.
Some of the pieces are neither funny nor insightful. They seem to be explorations on O'Hara's part, essentially serving as filler for the evening, but the stronger pieces more than make up for the weaker ones. There is no real cohesive element to the evening, but there doesn't need to be one since it works marvelously as a showcase of O'Hara's talent. It doesn't hurt that he's cast some of the freshest and most promising young actors in New York, who switchroles each evening. All are all excellent, and possess a honed sense of comic timing.
O'Hara's direction is fluid, the original music is hip, and the space is appropriately intimate. He's clearly a rising star in the theatre world. Whatever you do, don't miss Booty Candy. At $10 a a ticket it's also quite a bargain.
Editor's Note With Pertinent Links: The piece Jenny found most amusing in the Boot Candy evening was also a highlight for me when I reviewed a multi-authored collection of short plays called Snapshots 2000. I also saw the original Public Theater production of Insurrection: Holding History as well as a more recent and much more effective production at the Berkshire Theatre Festival.
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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