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Volume 3, Issue 6 • Mar. 18–31, 2011 • San Diego Uptown News


16 Art | 17


(l to r) Hassan El-Amin and Lorene Chesley star in Mo’olelo’s production of “Stick Fly.” (Photo by Crissy Pascual/Infinite Media Works)


Mo’olelo’s ‘Stick Fly’ explores middle class diversity The 10th Avenue production sets theatergoers a-buzz with potential greatness


By Charlene Baldridge SDUN Theatre Critic


In keeping with its exploration


of cultures, Mo‘olelo Performing Arts Company presents Lydia K. Diamond’s “Stick Fly,” which presents an inside glimpse into the lives of a family that might be termed the black bourgeoisie. The playwright sets her im- mensely funny, intensely serious


work at the LeVay estate on Mar- tha’s Vineyard. Traditionally, the LeVays gather at their luxurious vacation home at the beginning of each season, renewing family ties (and animosities). Patriarch Joseph LeVay (the excellent Has- san El-Amin) presides, pulling strings, manipulating his grown sons, a plastic surgeon named Flip (Matt Orduña) and the younger Kent (Anthony Hawkins Woods).


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After obtaining several advanced degrees at dad’s expense, Flip has become a successful novelist—not an acceptable profession. Joseph keeps telling him to “man up” and get a real job. Each son arrives with an impres- sive woman for family inspection and approval. Kent’s significant other is Taylor (Lorene Chesley), a brilliant, assertive grad student in entomol- ogy whose late, absentee father was a notable author. The play takes its title from the professional technique of gluing houseflies to a stick to be better captured by a camera lens—certainly a metaphor for what ensues in the household. Flip’s fiancée is Kimber (Elizabeth M. Kelly), who teaches at an inner-city school. In advance of her arrival, Flip prepares the others, describing her as white, but Italian, as if that makes her somehow more palatable. The third prickly woman, who


presides over the kitchen, is the taciturn Cheryl (the winning Diona Reasonover), daughter of the fam- ily’s longtime housekeeper, whose incessant phone calls and grocery lists irritate Cheryl inordinately. She, too, is brilliant and soon to depart for a prestigious university. The LeVay matriarch, described as in transit, never arrives, and thereby hangs a tale. The verbal clashes are cataclys- mic, as befits a privileged family with so many secrets. Joseph is the most fully developed of all the characters, an irritating, seemingly unloving and deeply flawed man. He dutifully provided education and security to his sons, but he is also the reason they don’t know who they are.


The play is challenging, com- plicated, and great intellectual fun. The players range from good to ex- cellent. On opening night, March


5, the ensemble had yet to achieve the fluidity of which it is capable. Robert Barry Fleming directs upon David F. Weiner’s detailed set, which is divided into three areas, the book-laden living room, an immense kitchen behind it, and a porch downstage house right. Because of its unusual depth, the set presents an acoustical chal- lenge. Particularly when spoken in the kitchen, dialogue tends to diffuse upwards and to the sides. This phenomenon is a character- istic of the 10th Avenue Theatre, where Mo‘olelo is the theater in residence. Attention must be paid to this challenge and to the playwright.


“Stick Fly” continues at 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 20 at 10th Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Avenue, $22-$27, moolelo.net or (619) 342- 7395.u


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(l to r) Matt Orduna, Diona Reasonover, Anthony Hawkins Woods, and Lorene Chesley lead in “Stick Fly.” (Photo by Crissy Pascual/Infinte Media Works)


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