Directed by Vincent Lancisi and written by Lydia Diamond, Stick Fly at Everyman Theatre opened March 18 to enthusiastic audiences. It is a humorous yet poignant story of a well-off, African American family made up of Dr. LeVay and his two sons, Harold and Kent. For years the LeVay family has been vacationing at their summer home in Martha’s Vineyard, where Diamond has the story take place, but this is the first time the two sons are bringing their significant others to the Vineyard. It doesn’t take long for the family to settle into its dysfunctional dynamic or the awkwardness of meeting the new family to begin.
Kent’s fiancé, Taylor, is the lower middle class, estranged daughter of a famous intellectual. She struggles to find a place among her soon-to-be wealthy family. Kimber, Harold’s girlfriend, comes from a well-off family and comes from Manhattan. However she too has some trouble trying to fit in, but perhaps her melanin deficiency is to blame for that. Also joining the house for the summer is the maid’s daughter, Cheryl. She’s fresh out of an elite high school in New York but had to take her mother’s place with the LeVays due to her mother’s sudden illness.
But there is one character not present, but frequently mentioned during the play. Mrs. LeVay is unable to join her family at the Vineyard for a mysterious reason. When the sons inquire about the absence of their mother, Dr. LeVay refuses to speak about it with them. This is the first clue there is a secret to be learned. Soon the tensions begin to build up between the characters, parent-child conflicts emerge, confrontation between the girlfriends occur, and truths begin to surface.
The actors give convincing and at times very moving performances. They deliver the tension and discomfort very well, and on a very large set too. The stage is possibly one of the main drawbacks of the show. It’s so large and in such a small space that patrons seated at far house left or house right may have some trouble viewing the entire stage. Despite these tricky views it is a well-dressed and appropriately lavish interior for the setting. The audience is warmly welcomed into the massive interior, with a good view of the large living room at center stage, a cozy kitchen stage left, and a inviting porch stage right.
Throughout the play, some scenes seem to drag on and on, and at other times they are a little hard to follow. A few of the scenes include action occurring in two rooms at once. In addition to these minor issues, the play itself ends without resolve. Diamond has two acts, five scenes in each, full of family tension and secrets, but she barely scrapes the surface of a few potentially intriguing conversations on race, culture, class, and family dynamic, only to close the show without a decent or satisfying ending. The truth comes out, the lights go down, and bows are taken.
And yet despite this, the performances have achieved great response from the audience members, a good sign for all involved. Overall it is a good show, enjoyable until the end. There are just few areas where Diamond could have tightened or cleaned up lines, structure, and flow. The show closes April 17, there are plenty more chances to see Stick Fly, so be sure not to miss it. It lasts about two and half hours with an intermission and refreshments available for purchase. Go to Everymantheatre.org for more information, or call the Box Office(410-752-2208) to reserve your tickets now.