Raucous, riotous, and full of heart, BLKS, the new comedy going on now until March 3 at Woolly Mammoth, has something for everyone.
Specifically, however, and with a strong sense of purpose, it has something for queer black women — and anyone who loves them. It’s a farce with some axes to grind, yes, about racism and misogyny and police shootings and health care … But it’s far more a celebration than a screed. Written by Aziza Barnes and directed by Nataki Garrett, BLKS is too funny to be preachy, or tiresome, or, really, anything but a pleasure.
Deliberately set in the distant past of 2015, this no-prisoners, no-intermission show concerns a trio of female New York friends — two of them at least attracted to women, one of them at least attracted to men — going out for a well-needed night on the town. Octavia (Cyndii Johnson, sincere and passionate) just had a fight with her lover and an unpleasant health scare: She found a cancerous mole on her clitoris, and is nervous about the possible damage when she goes under the knife to remove it. June (Tatiana Williams acts with great clarity of purpose) just caught her boyfriend cheating with another woman — and over Popeye’s chicken! And she has a new job her friends don’t seem to understand, let alone appreciate. And Imani (the always welcome Shannon Dorsey) just wants to get her buzz on enough to not be nervous when she tries out her latest performance art: Reciting bits from Eddie Murphy’s old “Raw” standup routine.
Things do not go as planned. Before the nifty, origami indoor/outdoor set has even morphed from home to club, one of our triumvirate has been assaulted. And the police don’t care. Things get both better and worse once they venture back inside, including more than one romantic entanglement gone, if not wrong, certainly not entirely right.
The story isn’t any wilder — or, frankly, more insightful — than an average episode of Insecure, but then: It is a lot gayer. And also East Coast and thus inherently better.
But what really makes BLKS such a hit is the love it has for its characters — their striving, their wit, their resourcefulness — and its desire to share that love with the audience. The opening night crowd was clearly pleased as punch. It is not hard to see why.