Sunday, January 1, 2012

In 'Stick Fly,' a Family That Has It All – Except

Tracie Thoms as Taylor and Dulé Hill as Kent “Spoon” LeVay, left photo, and Mekhi Phifer as “Flip” LeVay and Rosie Benton as Kimber in “Stick Fly.” Photos by Richard Termine.


and privilege rarely insulate a family from its dystopias.

In Lydia R. Diamond’s “Stick Fly,” in an open run at The Cort Theatre, both money and privilege play a big part in the LeVay family dynamics.

“Stick Fly” takes place over a weekend in the LeVay’s mansion on Martha’s Vineyard. Harold, the elder son, known to all as “Flip” (Mekhi Phifer) wants to introduce his girlfriend, Kimber (Rosie Benton) to his family, including his dad, Joe (Ruben Santiago-Hudson). His brother Kent (Dulé Hill) has brought his fiancee, Taylor (Tracie Thoms), to meet the folks, too.

The LeVays are extraordinary and extremely accomplished. Joe is a neurosurgeon. Flip has followed the patriarchal business, except he is a plastic surgeon. Kent has a series of degrees. To the chagrin of his father, however, he has chosen to be a writer. Despite his father’s disappointment, even Kevin has succeeded since he is about to become a published novelist.

“Stick Fly” makes for an interesting metaphor for LRD’s examination of the LeVay clan. The play’s title comes from Taylor’s field of expertise. The neglected daughter of a prominent scholar and sociologist, Taylor is an entomologist. As she explains, since flies move so fast that it is hard for scientists to study them, they Krazy Glue them to popsicle sticks and photograph the movements of their wings.

Playwright LRD asks weighty questions about class, fealty, pride and race in “Stick Fly” – the LeVays are black – while punctuating the discussion with genuinely funny dialogue.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Dulé Hill as a father and son who ae sometimes at odds in “Stick Fly.”

Everyone in “Stick Fly” is excellent, but Condola Rashad is extremely moving as the LeVays’ maid who is forced to deal with difficult issues of family and connection. The scenes between TT and RB, which morph from fire to friendly competitiveness, also stand out.

Alicia Keys, a producer of “Stick Fly,” has written transitional music to move the action from scene to scene. These entr’actes have the potential to annoy. Or do they? In one scene, as the young folks come into the kitchen one by one, the music draws out the tension. It’s unnerving but it underscores what is going on – not allowing the “hurry-up” moment be rushed.

There is no curtain so the gorgeously architectural swoops of David Gallo’s complex and opulent set are on display throughout the evening. The majestic grandeur of the house is an eye-catching backdrop for the play.

To learn more about “Stick Fly” visit http://

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