Thomas portrays multiple other roles, like the rest of the Express’ supporting ensemble: Caleb Clark, Asia Rogers and Parris Sarter. They are uniformly superb, but special mention is due the simply sensational Sarter. In one vignette, she and Rogers play a number of girlfriends gossiping on the phone about the preposterous name given to one of their newborn daughters. In another, as Sutter’s mother, she brilliantly commands the conversation around the family dinner table. In yet another, she returns (again with Rogers) as a grownup version of that unfortunately named infant from the earlier scene.
“Bootycandy” is very funny that way, both literally and figuratively. Thomas’ irreverent reverend also makes a welcome return later (quoting the gospel according to Cicely Tyson, no less). And, at the end of the first act, the lights come up in the theater and Clark, the sole white member of the cast, appears as the oblivious moderator of a panel discussion with his four co-stars, as playwrights whose latest works sound strangely similar to some of the sequences we’ve just witnessed.
O’Hara’s language is regularly coarse and explicit. And more power to Clark for his gutsiness, with regard to a protracted and singularly unpleasant nude scene late in the play. To be sure, the final two segments are, A, dramatically jarring and horrific, and, B, clumsy and anticlimactic following so much inspired comedy elsewhere in the process. Who wants or needs a heavy and serious message or moral from a satire called “Bootycandy”? We’ve already been getting enough of that these days from a whole slew of other more socially and politically correct shows as it is.
Through June 12. 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. $36-$38 ($20 for students). Actor’s Express (at King Plow Arts Center), 887 W. Marietta St. NW. 404-607-7469. www.actors-express.com.
Bottom line: Ends with a disconcerting whimper, but otherwise thrives with a consistent bang.
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