Review: Bootycandy at Big Idea Theatre


A clueless facilitator, left, leads a writing conference.

A clueless facilitator, left, leads a writing conference.

Photo courtesy of Yarcenia Garcia

Thu 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 9/2 2pm. Through 9/8; $18-$22; $12 Thu; Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036;
Rated 5.0

“Bootycandy” is a grandmother’s euphemism for a penis. Really, everything that transpires in Bootycandy, now at Big Idea Theatre, stems from that—the penis. Playwright Robert O’Hara creates a surrogate, Sutter, and sets him on a journey fraught with fear, loathing, anger and violence as he grows up gay and black in contemporary America.

Anthony D’Juan directs an exceedingly talented cast—Vernon Lewis, Urias Davis, Cole Winslow, BJ Nash and Brooklyn Solomon—in this warped odyssey. Lewis plays Sutter, O’Hara’s stand-in.

Through a series of vignettes, many of which put the “absurd” in Theater of the Absurd, O’Hara takes many easy shots at black culture, from hypocrisy in the church to a propensity for choosing unusual names. As he admonishes his audience against trading in rumors of “sexual perversion” among the church choir, an evangelical minister rips off his clerical robe mid-sermon to reveal a short, shimmery dress and high heels. A lesbian couple (one named Genitalia, the other Intifada) participates in a “non-commitment” ceremony revoking their union.

The central event of Bootycandy is an act of sexual violence borne of Sutter’s conflicted identity and his inability to reconcile who he is with who he must be to survive. The visceral portrayal here, which includes a bit of male nudity, is the most difficult to process, for the viewer and, apparently, for the playwright as well.Ω