Lydia Diamond’s well-made play, given a first-rate production by Congo Square, seems like a throwback to an earlier theatrical age. You get your family drama, complete with a telegraphed shocking revelation. Add portentous symbolism: the stick fly of the title refers to the entomological practice of gluing flies to a stick so as to observe them more closely. Spice with social commentary: Diamond carefully registers the layers of class, race and gender bias at play when the scions of the black upper class get together in Martha’s Vineyard. On the whole, Diamond’s construction is a little bloodless. This production’s best moments are driven by the superlative performances of Ann Joseph as Taylor, the neglected and bitter daughter of a recently deceased academic superstar, and Phillip Edward Van Lear as the insomniac patriarch Joseph, a neurosurgeon whose casual brutality is reflected in his son Flip (Aaron Todd Douglas) with less of the irascible charm. When Taylor confronts Flip’s nattering white girlfriend Cheryl (Ericka Ratcliff) about her claims to inner-city experience, or Joseph berates his gentle son Spoon (Daniel Bryant) about his life’s lack of direction, the sparks are palpable. But “Stick Fly” could do with less scene-setting and more genuine drama. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.