The complications of class and race—and the gradations of such among African Americans—are among the themes in Lydia R. Diamond’s domestic comedy, "Stick Fly," directed by Kenny Leon with pop singer Alicia Keys as its above-the-title producer. It opens on Broadway Thursday night.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson plays Joseph LeVay, an affluent neurosurgeon who has married into one of Martha's Vineyard’s first black families unstained by the legacy of slavery. Despite his status as lord of Vineyard manse, the good doctor keeps true to his working-class roots. In the early moments of the play, he dives into a hidden stash of pickled pigs feet, which he relishes with hot sauce—a culinary treat looked upon with some disdain by his well-born wife and his ambitious sons, played by Dule Hill and Mekhi Phifer.
Other characters include Cheryl, the smart and sassy 18-year-old daughter of the LeVays’ maid, and the two sons' girlfriends: Taylor, a Johns Hopkins entomologist, and Kimberly, a wealthy WASP who works with inner-city children on achievement gap issues.
When Diamond is asked if the savvy Cheryl, like Dr. LeVay, at times chooses to use less-than-perfect English in her banter with the high-IQ household, the playwright says, “Oh, you mean ‘code switching’?”