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Barbecue

Members say: Funny, Clever, Original, Entertaining, Hilarious
79
Critics
81
32 reviews
Members
77
59 reviews
 

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.

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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.

 

Cast & Creatives (17)



Reviews (91)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
81
Avg Score

65
The New York Times

"A rawly funny but uneven new comedy...The fun stops a little too early: Mr. O’Hara springs a big reveal at the close of the first act that ultimately turns the play in a more serious and less satisfying direction...Mr. O’Hara jolts us with a twist that ends the first act on an admittedly intriguing note. What follows, unfortunately, lets the helium out of the balloon, as the second act mostly dispatches with comedy entirely." Full Review

80
Variety

"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

80
Time Out New York

"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

90
Theatermania

"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

90
New Yorker

"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

65
New York Magazine / Vulture

"I’ve not laughed as hard in the theater, or felt as uncomfortable about it, since O’Hara’s 'Bootycandy...' I’m not categorically opposed to plays whose logic doesn’t track, or those that move from yuks to yikes; but this one loses its sprightliness and sense of direction. It is not without its moments of levity, its piercingly apt observations of certain kinds of people. But after such a furious boil of comedy in Act One, the attempted drama of Act Two can only feel like a comedown." Full Review

85
New York Theater

"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

80
Lighting & Sound America

"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

75
The Huffington Post

"'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

90
The Huffington Post

"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

85
Theatre's Leiter Side

"'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

75
AM New York

"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

65
Talkin' Broadway

"After all the zany chance-taking of Act I, the second act just doesn't offer enough to make the loss worthwhile. Because what's good is so good, it's difficult not to wish that 'Barbecue' were evenly cooked all the way through." Full Review

65
The Huffington Post

"There's a whiff of superiority about his intentions...But then the cunning dramatist pulls a fast one. He shifts gears in as radical a manner as any sleight-of-hand playwright has in recent, and even not so recent, memory...Whether the elongated nature of the first act is compensated for by the second act--which surely depends on falling for the second-act development--is up in the air. But O'Hara can be thanked for taking the risk as well as for much of the furious humor he unleashes." Full Review

95
CurtainUp

"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

85
The Wrap

"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

91
Bob's Theater Blog

"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

75
NorthJersey.com

"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

70
WNBC

"O’Hara has written a comedy about getting reality to fit the truth we’ve previously constructed for it. 'Barbecue' is different and definitely worth seeing -- but after a point, I had to give up listening for anything fresh and just let the playwright bat me around with the figurative stack of Us magazines he so ably wields." Full Review

75
Broadway & Me

"'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

80
Theater Pizzazz

"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

75
Theatre is Easy

"'Barbecue' shines with equal doses of comedic gold and intellectual stimulation...Despite murkiness, O’Hara succeeds in planting some questions that linger long after the play’s celebratory ending. He is once again preoccupied with who gets to tell our stories, and luckily in this case it is O’Hara who has the pen." Full Review

90
Reviewing The Drama

"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

80
As Her World Turns

"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

85
Theatre Reviews by John Clum

"'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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
77
Avg Score

90
Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Quirky

See it if you like neat, bizarre, fresh takes on family dysfunction

Don't see it if you dislike the above.

Also From the brilliant & quirky mind that gave us Bootycandy.

82
Funny, Clever, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

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

41
Ambitious, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if Left at intermission. Hard to connect with. Not funny.

Don't see it if Spend your money on something else.

85
Clever, Thought-provoking, Raunchy, Relevant, Hilarious

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

85
Clever, Refreshing, Great writing, Hilarious

See it if you liked to be surprised by plot twists... You won't see what happens coming.

Don't see it if you're easily confused or don't like family dramedies.

83
Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Entertaining

See it if You love great acting and an interesting and unique idea for a play.

Don't see it if You don't like surprises and somewhat confusing plots.

47
Confusing, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if I left at intermission.

Don't see it if Just don't see it.

65
Funny, Great acting, Overrated, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy a funny satire with a twist.

Don't see it if you require your satires to have a harder bite, or a more timely, relevant bite. Feels this would have worked better 15-20 yrs ago.

75
Funny, Original, Clever, Quirky

See it if want a fresh take on family interplay and ambition in an unexpected setting. 1st act was very strong and funny. 2nd act lost some steam.

Don't see it if you're looking for a straight-forward comedy setup. You do need to let go and get involved with the characters and their odd situations.

66
Funny, Confusing, Intriguing

See it if You like broad satire, are entertained by the dysfunctional families shouting on daytime tv talk shows, and careering plot twists

Don't see it if You prefer your humor more subtle and less shouty, and your plots more pulled-together than slapdash

59
Funny, Edgy, Raunchy, Disappointing

See it if you don't mind a strong and funny first act, followed by a second act that seems like it's from a different show.

Don't see it if you're easily offended.

80
Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if You like unpredictable and smart writing

Don't see it if You want a linear, direct plot

92
Original, Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Hilarious

See it if you want to be entertained, and have something to discuss with friends after the performance.

Don't see it if you can't handle a sudden shift of tone in a play.

85
Funny, Ambitious, Edgy, Intelligent, Uneven

See it if you enjoy farce about big political and social ideas.

Don't see it if you get a headache from a lot of shouting.

88
Original, Edgy, Inventive, Hilarious, Madcap

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.

90
Funny, Original, Clever, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy biting satire

Don't see it if you like high-brow characters

88
Original, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like fast-paced, funny satire of contemporary life

Don't see it if references to race or vulgarity offend you

96
Funny, Great acting, Must see, Entertaining, Surprising

See it if you like family drama/comedy, and unexpected twists.

Don't see it if you don't like swearing.

76
Funny, Original, Clever, Quirky

See it if you want to see a show with a new spin

Don't see it if you are turned off by shouting and addiction themes

94
Original, Intense, Raunchy, Great writing, Hilarious

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.

90
Funny, Original, Absorbing, Clever, Great writing

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.

68
Ambitious, Raunchy, Banal, Disappointing, Borderline racist

See it if You like cute theatrical casting tricks

Don't see it if drug/alcohol themed interventions treated in a trite manner offends you

70
Quirky, Confusing, Inconsistent, Hilarious, Surprising

See it if you like shouty comedy which exacerbates cultural stereotypes, want huge (unconvincing) plot twists. First half: hilarious, 2nd: wtf.

Don't see it if You don't want to be really confused by the end of the play, if cussing and dirty jokes offend you, if you want more nuanced acting.

69
Funny, Confusing, Uneven, Tantalizes then disappoints, Intriguing

See it if You like broad satire, are entertained by the dysfunctional families shouting on daytime tv talk shows, and careering plot twists

Don't see it if You prefer your humor more subtle and less shouty, and your plots more pulled-together than slapdash

90
Original, Dizzying, Edgy, Great acting, Hilarious

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.