Chicago Theatre Review
Sticking To the Family
Stick Fly – Windy City Playhouse
From the moment you see the lovely, detailed, Martha’s Vineyard home of the LeVay family, it seems all too perfect. But as the house moves out of its quiet slumber, so too, are the tense relationships and coupling surprises.
Members of this affluent African American family will begin to arrive shortly. A young girl, Cheryl, is preparing the house for the familiar seasonal inhabitants. We discover she is the daughter of their long time domestic. She is familiar with the house and family. She is eighteen and pushing her confidence, but she is reticent about stepping in for her ailing mother. Cheryl is determined to make the best of it. Her relationship with the family members is pivotal during this short weekend stay. Paige Collins as Cheryl moves through her story with confidence and fresh energy. She brings a power punch as the play draws to a close.
The first to arrive is son Kent with his fiance Taylor. Kent (Tyrone Phillips) he is a writer, much to the displeasure of his father. He has completed his first book, but is reluctant to share any of his accomplishments with his father. It is clear that his father is not pleased with his stalled career choices. The fiance, Taylor, (Celeste M Cooper) makes it her mission to be liked by all those around her at the house. She is an outspoken entomologist, with a knack for overthinking and over speaking. Ms. Cooper plays Taylor with a giant heart and profound likability. She loves Kent, but as the weekend prevails, she tests the boundaries of their relationship and her relationship with those around her.
Flip is the next son to arrive, but before he shows up, his girlfriend comes to the house. It is a surprise to those already arrived. The confusion is Flip’s own doing. She has been described as “Italian”. But Kimber (played spot on by Kristen Magee) is a WASP, and oddly she fits in with the family. She moves with uncomfortable ease; well, more easily than Taylor. They are at odds from the start. Their stories of black and white, and the causes they represent are the main sticking points.
Michael Pogue plays Flip with an irritating likability. He is the father’s son in good standing as he is a surgeon himself. His view of his dad must be readjusted as the play draws to a close.
The last to arrive are Flip and Kent’s parents. The Dr. LeVay arrives alone, the mother will arrive later. Dr. LeVay is interestingly played by Phillip Edward Van Lear. Mr. Van Lear brings the patriarchal participation with sincerity and just the right amount of intensity.
With the mother seemingly on her way, the familiar sparing gets underway.
The story, by Lydia R Diamond, brings out all those feelings when your family gets together for a simple weekend. Throw in a reticent housekeeper’s daughter with some game changing information, and let the summer fireworks begin.
I enjoyed the deft direction (Chuck Smith)with a comfortable realness. You are immediately at ease with the inhabitants. The mood is always grounded and never seems false or misleading.
My only conflict was with between scenes when the crew came out to move props and set up. It was distracting, even with the great music choices. (Ray Nardelli) The set was fantastically detailed (Jaqueline Penrod) and the lighting helped establish the mood and pace.
Stick Fly is enjoyable and keeps you interested. The relationships are familiar, but echos of misunderstood emotions, and the idea of “how things have always been” is challenged and dissected. We may never understand the winners, the losers, and those just trying to be understood.
The Windy City Playhouse is an exciting venue. I look forward to other productions in this comfortable and friendly environment.
Reviewed by Lazlo Collins
Tickets are available through July 5th at www.windycityplayhouse.com or 773-891-8985.
Additional information about this and other area productions can be found by visitingwww.theatreinchicago.com.