This stunning Pulitzer Prize winner begins simply: It’s Grandma’s birthday, and Beverly needs the family’s celebration to be perfect. But her husband is no help, her sister is getting into the wine, her brother hasn’t arrived, and her teenage daughter’s secrets threaten to derail the day. Then this family comedy takes a surprising turn, becoming an unpredictable and thrillingly theatrical experience that boldly confronts perceptions of race and identity.
Beverly Frasier, a Black, suburban, middle-class mom, is preparing a family dinner for her Mama’s birthday party. Beverly wants everything to be perfect and gets stressed, out, although her husband Dayton and sister Jasmine assure her everything will be just fine.
Yet several stresses threaten to ruin the perfect family dinner. Beverly’s teenage daughter Keisha wants to take a gap year between high school and college, but Beverly doesn’t like this idea when Jasmine brings it up. Beverly receives a call from her brother Tyrone, a lawyer, telling her he might not make the dinner because his flight got rerouted. When Jasmine goes to see Mama, Mama doesn’t come downstairs and locks herself in the bathroom. And when Keisha gets a phone call from her “friend” Erika asking to drop something off at the house, Beverly warns her that her grandma doesn’t like Erika or her relationship with Keisha. Beverly grows more and more stressed, and when she realizes the cake in the oven burnt, she passes out.
After this, the play takes a surprising direction that explores the white gaze, racial stereotypes, and life as a Black person in a white supremacist society in a daringly theatrical way. We dare not spoil how this all plays out – see this Pulitzer-Prize winner for yourself!