Theater review: ‘Chicken and Biscuits’ is a cliched meal

“Chicken & Biscuits,” a new household comedy by actor Douglas Lyons (who has appeared on Broadway within the ensembles of “The Book of Mormon” and “Beautiful”), makes for a nice success story – if not essentially a nice play.

The play managed to make its world premiere on the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Corona Park mere days earlier than the pandemic shut down just about all reside theater in New York Metropolis.

Over a 12 months later, it was introduced that “Chicken & Biscuits” would switch to Broadway, making it a part of a historic surge of performs by Black writers on Broadway following the pandemic together with “Pass Over,” “Lackawanna Blues,” “Slave Play,” “Thoughts of A Colored Man,” “Clyde’s,” “Skeleton Crew,” and “Trouble in Mind.”

However not like all these different performs, “Chicken & Biscuits” is a typical, sitcom-style, feel-good comedy. There is completely nothing flawed with having a play like that on Broadway. In actual fact, it’s refreshing to have a lighter possibility accessible for individuals who should not all for an experimental and difficult piece akin to “Pass Over” or “Slave Play.”

The forged contains veterans from the Queens manufacturing and acquainted Broadway actors together with Norm Lewis (“Porgy and Bess,” “Once On This Island”), Michael Urie (“Torch Song,” “Buyer & Cellar”), and NaTasha Yvette Williams (“Waitress,” “Porgy and Bess”).

Set in and round a church earlier than, throughout, and after a funeral, a Black household is mourning the demise of its patriarch, leaving his son-in-law (Lewis, who will get the possibility to sing a little) to take over because the church’s pastor and ship his eulogy. That being stated, “Chicken & Biscuits” is primarily involved with tensions and dysfunctions throughout the prolonged household, culminating in a thriller visitor look and shock revelation at its climax.

I actually want I had appreciated the play, which is billed as working 100 minutes with out intermission however actually runs simply over two hours in size.

It is affectionate and well-meaning, preaching love, reconciliation, and acceptance. However sadly, it is cliched and tedious, with quite a few scenes that drag on endlessly. One will get the sensation that Lyons someday determined that he needed to jot down a play up with this. (In response to an interview with The Undefeated, Lyons wrote the play whereas working as an actor as a result of he wanted one thing to do backstage.)

The manufacturing (staged by Zhailon Levingston, who is now the youngest Black director in Broadway historical past) depends closely on mugging from the actors, particularly Urie, who does his normal shtick of exaggerated facial expressions and manic reactions. It really works greatest throughout the funeral sequence, at which level theatergoers are made to really feel as if they’re a part of the church service. At my efficiency, fairly a few folks responded to the funeral speeches in a name and response type.

Simply in case you might be questioning concerning the title, the play concludes with a meal of hen and biscuits. As soon as theatergoers now not have to put on face masks, they could get a kick out of consuming hen and biscuits throughout the play. “Chicken & Biscuits” might very nicely have a large future forward in dinner theater.

Circle within the Sq. Theatre, 1633 Broadway, chickenandbiscuitsbway.com. Via Jan. 2.

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