The Public Theater presents award-winning playwright Robert O'Hara's world premiere dark comedy about a dysfunctional group of siblings who stage an intervention for their drug-addicted sister. More…
The O’Mallery’s have gathered in their local park to share some barbecue and straight talk with their sister Barbara, whose spiral of drugs and recklessness has forced her siblings to stage an open-air intervention. But the event becomes raucous and unpredictable as familial stereotypes collide with hard realities, and racial politics slam up against the stories we tell—and maybe even believe—about who we were and who we become. Robert O' Hara's world premiere is a new take on family drama and proves that family can be a bigger vice than any other addiction.
"This is the funniest and most original play I've seen in a long time...This is a big, meaty, uproarious satire that's sure to be another hit...O'Hara has a lot more on his mind than telling his version of such a story with over-the-top familial stereotypes. Both acts are full of surprises...all the actors are terrific....director Gash has helped the cast to seamlessly inhabit their challenging roles and added to the play's pleasures with a deluxe physical production...Thumbs up. Don't miss it." Full Review
"With any great performance, or great play, there is always an element of mystery. That is doubly true of Robert O’Hara’s raunchy fun-fest. In fact, the reveals are so terrific that the audience doesn’t even receive programs until the intermission. And for very good reasons. Such good reasons that I’m at a loss to tell you why you should run, not walk, to this wonderful production." Full Review
"O'Hara's eye-popping, meta-theatrical, reality-TV-for-the-auditorium, kitchen sink drama - under the innovative directorial vision of Kent Gash - could be a taste of where theater is going; It taps into today's bizarro zeitgeist and really pushes a insurrectionary mirror echo back in our faces. O'Hara's script gives way to the spectacular cast to fan the fires of an atomic blast of a second act...Self-invention, intervention, exploitation and raw ambition stew below this riotously funny dome... Full Review
"I’ll only reveal enough to convince you that you must see this play, and given that the aspects of this play are divine in every way, it won’t take much...by the end of this two-act, O’Hara has explored a slew of relevant topics, all while telling a story that left my and the entire audiences’ mouths vacillating between two positions: screaming in laughter, and agape in utter shock...Go forth and see good theatre. Go see 'Barbecue.'" Full Review
"Robert O’Hara’s raunchy and raucous new play at the Public Theater is full of surprises...O'Hara's inventiveness does not flag...While the satire is far from subtle, the play is so entertaining that I didn’t mind the heavy-handedness." Full Review
"A wild theatrical experience that defies logic and explanation. O'Hara has created a true satire, laden with as much humor as there is criticism...The fact that everything is given equal weight and thought, and is presented with such audacious originality, sets it far apart from the competition. Easily one of the funniest plays of the year and one of the most searing appraisals of contemporary culture, 'Barbecue' proves O'Hara can cook with gas." Full Review
"Robert O’Hara’s new play, 'Barbecue' (directed with vigor and understanding by Kent Gash), is my idea of an American classic, or the kind of classic we need. Although its fecund imagination seems unlimited, the work wouldn’t exist if it didn’t have the junk of our times to feed on—and spit out. Set, for the most part, in a nameless public park in the middle of the country, 'Barbecue' unfolds in a kind of electrified space, filled with leaf-curling light." Full Review
"Robert O'Hara's biting play takes raw concepts of truth, fiction and entertainment and grills them over a well-lit flame. He confronts America's love affair with suffering, the obsessional nature of celebrity and the tricky issues of race and class and skewers them to a crisp...A smack upside the head on the nature of 'reality,' 'Barbecue' is a smart, sassy original." Full Review
"I wish I could tell you all about Robert O'Hara's terrific new play, 'Barbecue.' I wish I could tell you about the Brechtian breaks and just why the play is so provocative. But to dive into the details would be to spoil the fun of sitting in the theatre and watching it unfold...He continues to tantalize the audience with the unexpected, constantly shifting any sort of home base...Bravo to the terrific ensemble." Full Review
"'Barbecue' is a finger lickin’ good, frequently hilarious, marvelously directed, and outstandingly performed satire on racial stereotypes, Hollywood, addiction, rehab, family dynamics, overweening ambition, memoir writing, and the relative value of truth versus lies...Seeing the actors go at this material with turbojet energy, spewing profanities like they were sunflower seeds, and squeezing every moment for total impact, is a joy.” Full Review
"An outrageous, sly comedy. Some of O’Hara’s surprises turn this funny but uncomfortable story of a family who would not win any NAACP Image Awards into something clever and thoughtful. 'Barbecue' winds up much more satisfying theater than it initially promises to be...'Barbecue' manages to roast its raw characters, while at the same time basting the audience in juicy observations about race and class, truth and 'authenticity,' and modern addictions, including to fame." Full Review
"It’s wickedly funny. But the real delight of “Barbecue” is watching its bold, audaciously structured story unfold...The first act is tough to follow...The actors all perform way over the top and each of them deserves to be there." Full Review
"In Robert O'Hara's very funny, recurringly surprising, and ultimately fairly thoughtful new play, which alternates between slapstick and serious, nearly everything is doubled, mirrored, multilayered, at least slightly dishonest...in a great moment at the end of the first act, you will discover that O'Hara's point is something else entirely. You will most likely hoot out loud at the revelation. You'll return for the second act, eager to see where things are going." Full Review
"'Barbecue' is both hilarious and thought provoking...Above all, it's great fun. O'Hara's theatrical world is always a bizarre cartoon-like distortion of reality. Director Kent Gash and the large cast has given the play an excellent, perfectly paced production. Highly recommended." Full Review
"'Barbecue' was an utterly unique and thought provoking look into stereotypes, similarities and racial identities...A real treat...If for nothing else, see the play for an evening of laughter and a real look at what the line between cultures is." Full Review
"I can say with full confidence that, even if 'Barbecue' takes nearly a full act before it fully roars to life, O'Hara has pulled off a dazzling sleight of hand that makes any number of deadly accurate points about the social industry that produces our perceptions of race and myths of self-invention. Not only is 'Barbecue' filled with surprises; each of them packs a wicked sting." Full Review
"Robert O’Hara’s cruelly funny new play, 'Barbecue,' shrewdly turns the formula for the American domestic comedy on its head, forcing uneasy thoughts about the facile presumptions we make about poverty, race and social class, as applied to dysfunctional families." Full Review
"Robert O’Hara’s brash, taboo-flouting roast of race and representation... As in the playwright's hilarious 'Bootycandy', most of the scenes involve extreme, broadly drawn comic conflict. I suspect that Barbecue could be even stronger if it took a longer step out of caricature, but that’s clearly not what O’Hara is after. For better or worse, his satire is relentless." Full Review
"Go see 'Barbecue.' You’ll be intellectually inspired and comedically delighted...In this season of disappointing experimental theater productions, 'Barbecue' is proof of concept. Chances are taken and reality is distorted but, unlike those other plays, it works here. It really works." Full Review
"Well this is one of the more surprising shows I’ve seen lately. Perhaps its structural twists and turns won’t surprise you, but I was very happy to go along for the crazy and unexpected ride that is 'Barbecue'...So glad I took a chance on this one." Full Review
"O'Hara says a number of clever, layered things about race, class, representation, and the media. The play is very, very funny,..The first act felt a little shrill, and in general, making the poor and uneducated the butt of extended jokes seems pretty cheap. But the ensemble work here is excellent--so is the direction and the set. And for my quibbles, the play's a genuine hoot." Full Review
"The first act concludes with a major revelation, and the comparatively toned-down second act essentially serves as a discussion of what we've already seen, with a few more surprises thrown in for good measure. 'Barbecue' may be rough and scattershot, but it is intellectually vigorous, often hilarious and quite exciting." Full Review
"'Barbecue,' the sly satire that opened this week at the Public Theater, is filled with so many surprises that the ushers won't even hand out programs until the intermission...There is plenty of fun to be had, particularly in the first act, even though it may not be the kind of humor appreciated by the politically correct, among whose numbers I've been known to be on occasion. But even I couldn't resist the dare-you-not-to-laugh antics that playwright O'Hara has his characters commit." Full Review
"'Barbecue' may be a little more flawed but it confirms O'Hara as a playwright you don't want to miss....A flawed play with a strong first act, a sputtering second act, a good cast and solid tech elements. O'Hara tosses a lot of plates in the air and - while many of them crash - it's invigorating to watch...I can't recommend 'Barbecue' as strongly as 'Booty Candy'. But O'Hara is clearly a talent you want to watch develop. By all means go." Full Review
"O'Hara has thrown a lot of ingredients into a big pot in 'Barbecue,' and they don't blend perfectly. But messy as the narrative sometimes becomes, there's something exhilarating about the enthusiasm, and bright humor, with which he explores the possibilities of theater. His play might be flawed, but it's also very entertaining." Full Review
See it if you like theater that is outrageous, fresh, original & raucous. O'Hara is one of the theater's modern treasures with a unique voice and POV.
Don't see it if you are easily offended and prefer old tired revivals to contemporary works that speak to our times and sensibilities.
See it if You love a good comedy and are intrigued by race conversations in fresh and dynamic interpretations.
Don't see it if You aren't into surprises or subversive messages. There is a meta conversation being had in this show that may be off putting to some.
See it if you love a little confusion, a shock, and a right turn. Hilarious and thought-provoking, amazing acting.
Don't see it if you hate being confused or a show that departs from its original path.
See it if you like your ideas big, your humor nutty and having the rug pulled out from under you at every turn. O'Hara's mind is a thing of wonder...
Don't see it if You like the play's message spelled out for you. This piece touches on big themes but in a way that trusts us to interpret it as we may.
See it if You want to laugh and be entertained, you enjoy plot twists and light absurdism, and if you like to leave with something to mull over.
Don't see it if You are looking for heavy, gut-wrenching drama that tackles the big questions head on.
See it if ribald and riotous examination of race and class, filled with theatrical delights and strong performances
Don't see it if you want to have a strong emotional experience rather than an intellectual one
See it if Robert O'Hara knows his stuff. The multiple "reveals" only disappoint slightly in the end, but are still thought-provoking about race.
Don't see it if Can be considered underwhelming if you're expecting something clear-cut.
See it if you are interested in interventions, race, reality tv as a phenomenon, twists and turns. I found it thoughtful, funny, wise, and playful.
Don't see it if You are looking for a serious, conventional show.
See it if you like family drama presented in an unexpected, fresh way, with lots of laughs and satire, and a big act 1 curtain reveal
Don't see it if you don't like uneven plays - the first act is stronger than the second, or plays that sharply change tone from one act to the next
See it if u want another absolutely absorbing and wild play by Robert O'Hara. Very well produced and acted. Ending is a bit skit-like and shallow.
Don't see it if I don't see any reason not to see this if you like theater and want to celebrate new playwrights. So enjoyable! Surprises abound!
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies