Stick Fly Opens at the Cort Theater
Alicia Keys presents Stick Fly at the Cort Theatre
Stick Fly, a comedy with
moments of serious contemplation, presented by Alicia Keys, is a theatrical
offering by playwright Lydia R. Diamond, starring Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Mekki
Phifer, Dule Hill, Tracie Thoms, Condola Rashad and Rosie Benton. The play is
housed at the Cort Theatre, located at 138 West 48th Street in
Manhattan. Although, David Gallo’s set
immediately transports the audience to a rose strewn seaside vineyard haven.
Stick Fly derives its name
from the fact Taylor (Tracie Thoms), an entomologist, studies insects,
especially flies. She observes the behavior
of flies by gluing them to a Popsicle stick, so she can observe their motor
skills and wing movements as the fly struggles to get free. Not unlike the characters in the play, who
despite appearances are not free to be who they truly are or live the life they
crave, so restricted are they by expected codes of behavior.
All is not as it appears with
Taylor, who underneath the pretense is the rather disturbed and angry daughter
of a well-known author, whom everyone believes lives a life of privilege, yet
really lives on the sidelines of her famous father’s life. Taylor
has a secret in her past that finds her resentful of Flip’s white girlfriend Kimber
(Rosie Benton), whose self-assuredness aggravates Taylor and heightens her feelings
of rejection, insecurity and helplessness.
Although there are 6 visible
cast members, there are two others that are brought into the play by reference;
Cheryl’s mother via phone and the family matriarch via mention. Cordola Rashad plays a very believable role
as the maid, Cheryl, who while filling in for her sick mother over the weekend,
actually holds a long-time secret of her own.
It was appealing to see well-off
African Americans in Stick Fly, rather than the standard depiction of African
Americans as slaves or uneducated, poor, struggling, deprived people. Set in Martha’s Vineyard, we find two brothers
Kent (a.k.a. Spoon) played by Dule Hill and Mekki Phifer in the role of Harold,
also known as Flip, traveling to their family country home, unaware they had
picked the same weekend to reunite with and introduce their respective girlfriends
played by Rosie Benton (Kimber) and Taylor to their parents. Ruben Santiago-Hudson as the family patriarch
Joe Levay and Cheryl (Condola Rashad) make up the remaining cast of six.
Through the attitude of Joe
Levay, the audience is allowed a glimpse into the Black bourgeoisie and its mindset
regarding wealth, color, racial views, Martha's Vineyard crowd, education, debutante
cotillions, and Jack & Jill clubs.
This sense of privilege oft-times bred a culture of snobbishness and
class distinction, resulting in strict codifiers limiting entrance into their
class system. This arrogance prevents
Levay from admitting his culpability to and acknowledgment of some of his family
If catfights, secrets, sibling
rivalries, conflicts, romance, African American family crisis and music by
Alicia Keys float your boat, you will find Stick Fly directed by Kenny Leon, thoroughly
enjoyable and well worth the go see.