Family Secrets Tend to Come Out During Funerals

Oceanside Theatre Company's California Premiere of Chicken & Biscuits Proves to be Universal 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Durwood Murray, Kiara Hudlin, Kimberly King. Photo Esteban Marin

Oceanside Theatre Co's production and California premiere of Douglas Lyons's "Chicken & Biscuits," directed by Kevin “Blax” Burroughs in his debut as Artistic Director and his first foray into straight plays, is a refreshing and entertaining theatrical experience. 

The story starts with a family gathering in the church due to the sudden passing of the patriarch. The service will be hosted by Baneatta's (Kimberly King) husband Reginald (Durwood Murray), and as she is getting ready she is also dreading having to see her younger sister Beverly (Taylor Renee Henderson) who has a flare for attention and drama. Also expected to attend are Baneatta and Reginald's kids, Simone (Kiara Hudlin) who just went through a heartbreak, and Kenny (Jacob James), a working actor in a relationship with Logan (Marley Bauer). This relationship is one that Baneatta is not a big fan of and vocal about. Beverly is joined by her 15 soon-to-be 16-year-old daughter and aspiring rapper La'Trice (Allyce Calloway). Once the service takes off and practically everybody has said their "peace", Brianna (Michael Amira Temple), an unexpected guest arrives claiming space. Revelations unfold with a mix of conflicts, and humor, delving into themes of love, forgiveness, and the intricate dynamics of family relationships.

Allyce Calloway, Taylor Renee Henderson. Photo Esteban Marin
“Blax” Burroughs shared in the press release that “Chicken & Biscuits is unapologetically black,”. Agree with the context, the style, and the celebration of the service but it also proved to be universal as commonly, those family skeletons really come out during funerals.  
His favorite quote in the show: "Family is a loaded word"... is it ever! Absolutely. All these elements make the play even more celebratory, adding to the communal theatre experience.

The cast delivers performances that breathe life into their characters and establish a nice on-stage chemistry. Durwood Murray's eclectic sermon is the star of the show flaunting mean moves and that deep velvet voice he is known for. Taylor Renee Henderson is a hoot as the younger sister which balanced out well with Kimberly King's steady rhythm. Allyce Calloway performs a fun rap number that pumps the audience while Kiara Hudlin, Jacob James, and Marley Bauer land the plot back to how family matters and the meaning of its support. Michael Amira Temple is the icing on this family cake rounding out the service and the dynamics! While the ensemble works well together, a touch of tightening could further enhance the cohesiveness of their interactions, elevating the overall impact of the production.

The Creative Team, featuring Andre Buck, Jr. (sound), Emily Carter (costumes), Reiko Huffman (scenic design), Tori Jones (props, set dressing, stage management), and Mashun Tucker (lights), contributed to the atmosphere of the production, illustrating the storytelling that created a fun experience for the audience.

Oceanside Theatre Co's rendition of "Chicken & Biscuits" is heartfelt and engaging.

Currently playing until March 24th. For more information on performance days and times, please click here. 

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