Monday, October 2, 2017

Barbecue: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

We loved Act One of Robert O'Hara's "Barbecue," directed by Margo Hall. A San Francisco Playhouse play to the core, the show is funny, strange and unpredictable. The O'Mallerys are an homage to the dysfunctional family. Acting is great, with standout performances by Adrian Roberts, Anne Darragh and the rest of this excellent ensemble. We go with the flow and as Act One is about to close we are on the edge of our seats, giddy to find out what will happen next.

Then boom! The end of Act One. And then Act Two. The ensemble disappears and the explanation begins. We don't want to give anything away, but we will say it's probably more explanation than we need. Margo Hall and Susi Damilano are both excellent as the real Barbara and the Fake News Barbara emerge from under their blindfolds. Damilano is at her best and we get to watch her character develop, but Hall is forced to keep explaining. We know Margo Hall. She can tell a story with her little finger. After the delightful zaniness of Act One, we can't wait for everyone to get back on stage and go crazy again.

We love both Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe and Jennie Brick as the cigarette-toting Aldean. Anne Darragh and Alili Knox make you want to put Lillie Anne through her own private intervention.

Roberts and Clive Worseley as James T, and Kehinde Koyejo and Teri Whipple as Marie round out a cast where there are no incomplete characters. The set manages to look like so many little parks in San Francisco -- beat up and littered with deflated balloons.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division would grant Act One FOUR STARS and Act Two THREE STARS, so we end up awarding "Barbecue" THREE STARS WITH A BANGLE OF PRAISE.  The Bangle has to be for our favorite moment, when Adrian Roberts pulls out the taser. That is humor at its smokiest. "Barbecue" is terrific now and will get even tastier as the run continues.

San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post Street, San Francisco
2d floor of Kensington Park Hotel
Through November 11

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