POST: 'Barbecue' - an intervention in a park?

What's it about?

Barbecue is a show that will definitely have your brain juggling. In simplest terms, it’s a show about a film in the making. The show focuses on two families making a film about having a barbecue-styled intervention for their sister (Barbara) who is a recovering drug addict. Using the memoirs Barbara wrote while in rehab produces the film. Barbara, who also goes by the name Zippity Boom signs a movie deal with a production team and a “superstar-singer” to play her role. Zippity Boom is Barbara’s alter ego, which surfaces when she is under the influence. When Barbara reveals that her memoirs were actually fabricated she has to convince her family to get on board and follow in her footsteps of lies.

What did I experience?

In general, I believe that Barbecue wins the cake for my favorite pre-show and overall show experience. As I walked down Lafayette Street to go to The Public Theatre I saw a familiar face walking in front of me. I didn’t really pay it any mind because I knew it couldn’t be who I thought it was. But when I got on the ticket booth line that familiar face was one person in front of me. With caution I tapped him and it was Marlon Wayans! I said:

Me: “Aren’t you Marlon Wayans?”
Marlon: “Nope.” (With a smirk and side eye)
Me: “Yes you are!”
Marlon: Yes, I am.

We both laughed, I didn’t even have time to take a photograph because the ticket booth employee screamed “NEXT!” and Marlon proceeded to the booth.

I got to my tickets and headed to the theatre. The show began with a voiceover saying “Turn off your gyot-damn phones because nobody wanna hear ya tweetin’, textin’, or callin’ nobody!” I found the voiceover so funny and it played right into the show.

The show began with a Caucasian family on the scene. Zippity Boom's brother (James T.) was in a park on the phone with his sister (Lillie Anne) arguing about how much having a barbecue-styled intervention in this park for Zippity was such a bad idea. From that very first scene I was lost. I was looking at the set wondering - why are they having an intervention in a park? Why can’t they do this in therapy or in the privacy of a family members home?

Zippity Boom's sisters Adlean and Marie were also present at this intervention. Everybody except for Lillie Anne looked like they were under the influence based off the items that they chose to bring to the intervention. James T brought a taser, Marie brought painkillers, and Adlean brought a bottle of Jack Daniels. During the intervention the lights go off and when they turn back on there's a black family on the stage who also have the same names as Zippity Boom's family. I was confused again. I wondered - is this just a big coincidence? Could it be that another family at the same park with the same names are having the same exact problems?

The African American family continued the story as if they were the Caucasian family. As they were all discussing how much they don’t think Zippity Boom will show up, I realized that Adlean's my favorite. She was so assertive, aggressive, and full of life (maybe because of the Jack Daniels). Her red hair added so much more to her character it gave her that extra oomph. She would talk over everybody and she would tell stories that never happened as if she was right. Her attitude was so true to her look. She was the drama of her red bob hairstyle, short leopard mini-dress, gold sneakers, and white sunglasses.

Before you know it the lights go out again and once they are up, it picks up with the Caucasian family. When Zippity Boom arrived she overheard Lillie Anne saying this meeting was an intervention for her. Zippity Boom had no idea. The family didn’t know what to do so out of nowhere James T tased Zippity Boom. The lights go out again and when they're back it's the African American family and Zippity Boom is tied up to a tree. Myself, alongside the entire theatre was laughing. I wondered - how did it get this far? 

Every family member expressed to Zippity Boom how much they wanted her to get sober and go to rehab. After everyone expressed their feelings it was up to Zippity to accept the help or not. Lillie Anne asked Zippity “Would you please go to rehab?” In that moment, there was so much suspense - AND THEN, “CUT!” and an entire camera crew comes out and I’m talking a good 10 people from a crew. This “cut” began intermission.

I was so lost and confused I said to myself - What’s going on? Did I miss something? - My neighbor to the left of me said:

Neighbor: “Well goodnight, I think its over.”
Me: “No! There’s actually a 15-min intermission.”
Neighbor: “Oh really! I was wondering, what kind of ending is that.”

We both laughed and I got a Playbill.  As I looked in the Playbill I realized that the African American Lillie Anne was being played by Kim Wayans. I made the connection right there pulled out my phone (it was during intermission so I turned it back on) and learned that Marlon Wayans and Kim Wayans were siblings.

Marlon and some of Barbecue's cast tweeted a pic the same night.

Marlon and some of Barbecue's cast tweeted a pic the same night.

The show resumed the screen read “One Year Earlier” the audience gave a resounding “WHAT?!” I think I can speak for everybody when I say we didn’t want to know what happened a year earlier we waned to know - did Zippity say yes or no?!

Zippity Boom was greeted in the park by a “superstar-singer” that was going to play her in her movie. The “superstar-singer” expressed to her how much she was interested in her memoirs. In that moment I put 2 and 2 together looked in my playbill in the dark and saw that this “superstar-singer” actually was playing the African American version of Zippity Boom the entire time. I realized that the African American family were the actors in the movie while the Causcasian family were the ones who experienced these events. Well, not really experienced because Zippity’s memoirs were fabricated.

It all made sense to me now it was so clear I felt a sense of relief. I was so impressed with the writing skills more than anything. To have so many different time periods be showcased in these 2 hours was so cool to me. Jumping back and forth to a Caucasian and an African American family without telling the audience what was going on was brilliant. This show put my brain to work and that is exactly what I enjoy experiencing the most at the theatre.


Want to see it?

$30 Student Tickets
$20 Rush Tickets

@The Public Theater
thru Nov. 1