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Review: Woolly Mammoth’s “Booty Candy”

Arty Pants
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A Note from the Bitches: We are regularly invited to media night at our most favorite theater, Woolly Mammoth. Woolly has put on some great plays this season, most notably The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, and A Girl’s Guide to Washington Politics. Last week, we were unable to attend media night so we sent Josh, our resident gay-about-town, who opines on wine, food, theater and all things classy.

A theater regular I am not. A title like “Booty Candy,” however, is more than enough to drive this lazy bum off his Netflix and out into the world of the stage. Showing at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre (in Penn Quarter) through July 3 (extended!), this play is a shock-your-mama must-see. Not for the faint of heart or the overly politically correct, Robert O’Hara pulls you through ten sketches ranging from five to 15 minutes each touching on a different aspect of race, sexuality and the labels that define us. Did I mention this is a comedy?

We dined at the meatalicious Hill Country BBQ across the street before the show. Had we not, we would definitely have hit the theater’s concessions, which offers reasonable prices for wine, beer, nonalcoholic beverages and snacks. All of which, I might add, can be brought into this intimate theater. Intimate in that the front row is about two feet from the stage and the actors. During the intermission, we were able to check out the alphabet wall on the second floor where guests had written in taboo words from their childhood. This interactive piece proved both amusing and insightful.

Photo credit: Stan Barouh

The play itself seems designed to make you laugh, squirm, laugh again then ask yourself if it’s okay to be laughing. That quickly passes, thanks in part to an early sketch that reassigns the title “genitalia” in a way you definitely won’t see coming and had most of the theater nearly falling out of their seats. O’Hara’s script, loosely based on his own experiences, holds a mirror up to the experience of being black and gay. Then he puts another mirror behind him, another in front and so on breaking up the pieces of his story before he pulls them all back together.

Odds are you won’t be allowed to rest in your comfort zone for long, though O’Hara and his cast thankfully are equally skilled at bringing the audience back to that comfort zone as they are at yanking them out. The intimacy of the set and the actors combined with the sometimes meta- nature of the story assist in that push and pull with the audience. You won’t feel comfortable, but you will be entertained. This might be Mr. O’Hara’s endgame—if so, it is masterfully achieved.

Photo credit: Stan Barouh

Woolly Mammoth Theatre
641 D Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.
Admin: (202) 289-2443
Box Office: (202) 393-3939

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