I had no idea what to expect from Barbecue written by Robert O’Hara. I knew that it was a comedy that played in New York and had a twist so big that they didn’t hand out programs until intermission. The Geffen did hand out programs which is a HUGE MISTAKE!! If you go, do not look at the program before the show!!! Even though I think the Geffen messed up on the programs, everything else was PHENOMENAL!!!
Barbecue is everything that I love about theater. It is highly entertaining, has a message, and makes you think. The comedy is so vibrant and Colman Domingo does an outstanding job with his talented cast. The performances that he elicits are hilarious and over-the -top, but still have the grounding to make it believable. Robert O’Hara has a refreshing play that does something I have never seen before.
I don’t want to give anything away, but after the big twist, there are additional reveals and turns that will have you frequently surprised. The only knocks are that some people might be offended by the language (O’Hara’s pre-show announcement was PERFECT and set the tone of the show). Also, I can see the Pasadena Playhouse or CTG doing this show, but I don’t know if it fits the Geffen. There were some people in the older age bracket that left at intermission. I have seen this at multiple Geffen productions – patrons leaving during the show or at intermission. This usually happens at Geffen shows with strong language. If those patrons had stayed, they would have learned not to judge based on first impressions. There is a rich and compelling story within everyone, but a majority of the time we miss it because we judge or assume we already know. Randall Arney didn’t judge, and I applaud him for bringing this story to the Geffen (but please tell the ushers not to hand out programs)!