“Barbecue” at the Geffen

Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography.
Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography.

Raucous and hysterical fun, playwright Robert O’Hara’s satirical play Barbecue — now playing at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood — is a true original, featuring a very clever dramatic structure that is full of surprises.

Colman Domingo directs a formidably talented cast, each called upon to explore the furthest reaches of broad comedy in O’Hara’s inventive and outrageous scenario. It’s a treat to watch the usually-elegant Elyse Mirto play a hilariously trashy character, alongside Dale Dickey and Frances Fisher et al.

Cherise Boothe is a standout, especially when she is playing a Whitney Houston-inspired diva.

From the press notes:

The grill is hot, the beer is chilled and the table is set for a typical O’Mallery family barbecue. But when their drug-addicted sister Zippity Boom arrives strung-out and out of control, her siblings have finally had enough — enough beer, enough whiskey and enough pills to confront her, that is. Their ham-handed intervention ignites the fuse of this raucous and rollicking new comedy that skewers our warped view of the American family. From Obie and Helen Hayes Award winner Robert O’Hara, this Barbecue serves up a healthy helping of sibling love and loathing.

Actually, the less you know about this play’s plot points the better. That’s because Robert O’Hara has several dramatic surprises lurking within — surprises that deftly turn the tables on the audience and incisively challenge our preconceptions.

For the scenic design Sibyl Wickersheimer has created a detailed and realistic-looking public park which excellently serves almost the entire play (only transforming for the final scene). It’s obvious Kara Harmon had a lot of fun with the costume design, which ranges from over-the-top trashy to ultra-elegant, when required.

All said, this is a fantastic play and production that is not to be missed.

Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography.
Photo by Jeff Lorch Photography.



Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse

10886 Le Conte Avenue,

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Runs through Sunday, October 16.


Monday – No performance

Tuesday – Friday 8:00 PM

Saturday 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM

Sunday 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM

More info here.


Tickets are currently priced from $43 to $84 for the regular run (Sept 14 – Oct 16), and are available online at, via phone at 310.208.5454, or in-person at the Geffen Playhouse box office.

Based on seat availability, rush tickets may be available onsite 30 minutes prior to show time.

Rush tickets are priced at $35 for general admission and $10 for students, with a valid student I.D.


In addition to the opening night, the run of Barbecue will feature pre-show Signature Series events. These include Talk Back Tuesdays (Audience Q+A with artists), Girls Night Out, Lounge Fridays and Wine Down Sundays. Thanks to the support of Geffen Playhouse partners and sponsors, all elements of Signature Series evenings are complimentary as part of the ticket price. Signature Series events include:


Talk Back Tuesdays connect audiences directly with artists for post-show Q&A discussions touching on plot, character, and other elements of craft that bring the story to the stage. Dates: Sept.20, Sept.27, Oct.4 and Oct.11, 2016


Geared towards the ladies, with enticements for the guys, Girls Night Out is the ultimate night out in L.A. During the run of Barbecue, Girls Night Out offers fashion truck shopping, a hosted bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres, an always-popular photo booth, plus a complimentary post-show gift from Pixi Beauty. Date: Sept.22, 2016


A cultural happy hour that helps fast-paced Angelenos ease into the weekend, these events offer complimentary sparkling wine and refreshments with DJ-spun tunes starting at 7:00pm. Sponsored by Dates: Sept.23, Sept.30, Oct.7 and Oct. 14, 2016


Wine Down Sundays provides the perfect pairing – pre-performance wine sampling followed by a 7pm curtain time to close out the week. Dates: Sept.18, Sept. 25, Oct.2, Oct.9 and Oct. 16, 2016.


ROBERT O’HARA (Playwright)

Robert O’Hara has received the NAACP Best Director Award, the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play, 2 OBIEs and the Oppenheimer Award. He directed the World Premieres of Nikkole Salter and Danai Guiria’s In the Continuum, Tarell McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays (Part 2), Colman Domingo’s Wild with Happy as well as his own plays, BootyCandy and Insurrection: Holding History. His new plays Zombie: The American and Barbecue, world premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theater and New York Shakespeare Festival, respectively.


Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League and Olivier Award nominee Colman Domingo has recently directed Seven Guitars (Actors Theater of Louisville) and A Band of Angels (Off Broadway Alliance Award, New York City Children’s Theater). Mr. Domingo has directed productions Off Broadway and Regionally. He is a Lortel and Obie Award winning playwright whose plays include Dot, Wild with Happy, A Boy and His Soul. On television he has starred as Strand in AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead and co-stars in the upcoming Fox Searchlight film The Birth of a Nation.


Cherise Boothe’s stage credits include Milk Like Sugar (original cast: La Jolla Playhouse/Playwrights Horizons; Obie Award), Ruined (Goodman Theatre/Manhattan Theatre Club, Intiman Theatre/Geffen Playhouse; 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), Ohio State Murders (Theatre for a New Audience; Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival), King Hedley II (Signature Theatre) among others. Some of her appearances in film and TV include Inside Man, Then She Found Me, Rizzoli & Isles, The Good Wife, and Law & Order: SVU.


Yvette recently played Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone in A Night With Janis Joplin at the Pasadena Playhouse and 5th Avenue Theatre. Other credits include: Ella The Musical, Dreamgirls, Play On! (Ovation Award), Once On This Island, Ain’t Misbehavin’, St. Louis Woman, Into The Woods and Sisterella (NAACP Theatre Award). Her film credits include Dreamgirls and Middle of Nowhere. She has toured with Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, David Foster and Babyface.


Film work includes Winter’s Bone (2011 Indie Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress), Iron Man 3, Super 8, Domino, Changeling, The Pledge, Being Flynn, The Guilt Trip, and upcoming Hell or High Water and Blood Father. Television: over 30 guest starring and recurring roles on True Blood, Justified, Breaking Bad, and My Name is Earl. Upcoming: series regular in the 2nd ‘Spring’ season of HBO’s new Vice Principals. She is a veteran of the stage having been on Broadway and off, in numerous regional theatres and has 2 L.A. Ovation awards and 2 L.A. Weekly awards for her work in Del Shores’ Southern Baptist Sissies and ….Trailer Trash Housewife. 


Omar is known for his roles in Academy Award nominated films Django Unchained, The Blind Side and Selma. Recently, he co-starred in Ray Donovan and Eastbound & Down. His upcoming credits include Queen Sugar alongside Oprah Winfrey and Thank You For Your Service alongside Miles Teller and Amy Schumer. He currently plays a recurring role on NBC’s Aquarius. Omar has appeared onstage in Blue Monk and In the Jungle of Cities at 7Stages Theater in Atlanta.


Frances Fisher began her career at Virginia’s Barter Theatre, then spent 14 years in NYC off-Broadway and in regional theatre with credits including Elia Kazan’s The Chain, Arthur Miller’s last play Finishing The Picture, Three More Sleepless Nights (Drama League Award) and The Taper’s The Cherry Orchard.  A member of the Actors Studio, her first acting teacher was the legendary Stella Adler. Fisher is best known in film for Titanic and Unforgiven.  Some of her television credits include Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter, The Shield, Torchwood and Masters of Sex. Recent credits include JT Mollner’s Outlaws and Angels, the docu-drama Titanic: Sinking of the Myths, Phedon Papamichael’s A Beautiful Day, and Criminal Minds.


Kimberly Hébert Gregory currently stars as Dr. Belinda Brown in the HBO television series, Vice Principals with Danny McBride. Kimberly garnered much acclaim for her performance in Lynn Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark which was celebrated with an “Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play” Drama Desk Award nomination and a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for “Outstanding Featured Actress.” Kimberly has appeared in many stage productions including Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays at The Public Theater.


Highlights of Travis’ stage work include Boy (L.A. Theatre Works), In the Heat of the Night (L.A. Theatre Works), Atlanta: The Musical (Geffen Playhouse), National Pastime (Fremont Centre Theatre), The Exonerated (Playhouse West), The Diviners (Santa Monica Playhouse) and Take Me Out (Ensemble Theatre Company). Film credits include Imagine, Term Life, Swelter, Sound of My Voice, Adventures of Power and Dead Man Rising, among others. His TV credits include Queen of the South, Ray Donovan, 2 Broke Girls, The Mentalist, Sons of Anarchy, and Justified.


Some of Elyse’s stage credits include White’s Lies (Off Broadway), Any Day Now (NY Innovative Theatre Award winner, Lead Actress), Next Year in Jerusalem (NYITA nomination), The Guardsman, Figaro (LA Drama Critics Circle nomination 2015), Conviction (Ovation nomination 2015), the Shakespeare Repertory and The Goodman. She appeared in Scandal, NCIS and The Last Ship among numerous film, TV, commercial, voice over and audio book credits. Elyse is a company member at Antaeus and Theatre of NOTE.    


Heather’s Broadway credits include Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, A Raisin in the Sun, and Gem of the Ocean. Other credits include Born Bad, The Exonerated and Insurrection: Holding History.

Her film credits include Red Hook Summer, The Nanny Diaries, Broken Flowers, and the upcoming Roxanne, Roxanne. Her television credits include Law and Order, Whoopi, and The Good Wife.

She received an Audie award for her work on the audiobook Upstate, and the prestigious TCG/Fox Foundation Fellowship.


Rebecca Wisocky is known for her current role in Devious Maids as fan favorite Evelyn Powell. Rebecca’s credits include the feature film Hello My Name is Doris with Sally Field and as a recurring guest star on American Horror Story, The Mentalist, X-Files, Once Upon a Time, True Blood, Longmire and many more. Rebecca’s notable theatre credits include Jordan Harrison’s Amazons and Their Men (OBIE Award), God’s Ear (The Vineyard), Hot ‘n Throbbing (Signature), 36 Views (Public).


Geffen Playhouse has been a hub of the Los Angeles theater scene since opening its doors in 1995. Noted for its intimacy and celebrated for its world-renowned mix of classic and contemporary plays, provocative new works and second productions, the not-for-profit organization continues to present a body of work that has garnered national recognition. Named in honor of entertainment mogul and philanthropist David Geffen, who made the initial donation to the theater, the company was founded by Gilbert Cates, and is currently helmed by Artistic Director Randall Arney, Executive Director Gil Cates, Jr., and Co-Chairs of the Board Martha Henderson and Pamela Robinson. Proudly associated with UCLA, the Geffen welcomes an audience of more than 130,000 each year, and maintains extensive education and community engagement programs, designed to involve underserved young people and the community at large in the arts.

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


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