When you enter the Newman Theatre at the Public, to see “Barbecue”, a play that opens on October 8, on the same stage that launched Hamilton, three things hit you; 1. the ushers aren’t giving out Playbills until intermission to enhance a plot surprise; 2. the wall to wall stage set with ceiling to floor panels of trees and greenery engagingly creates a state park with birds chirping, picnic tables and built in barbecue stands and 3. the animated audience strolling in looking like it just got off the L train from Williamsburg is a reminder that the Public does envelope pushing stuff that pulses with youthful vitality.
There is a really interesting unexpected story change up. The cast is funny and talented with a stand out performance by Samantha Soule, playing a post rehab young woman from the other side of the tracks who finds her hustling counterpart, played by Tamberla Perry. Ms. Perry is a skillful, physical comic actress who takes her character send up a little too far over the top for my taste.
So without giving the change up away I will just say that the play is a bold skewering of a target that deserves it but after a fun two hour ride it was ultimately more of a good SNL sketch than great theatre.