First-world problem plays

Rachel Griffiths, left, stars with Stockard?Channing in “Other Desert Cities.” Find tickets at www.ltc.org.

Playwrights can’t seem to stay away from them this season: family dramas inside mansions filled with attractive, able-minded artists and academics. Now playing are “Stick Fly” and “Other Desert Cities,” which both exhibit plots that bank on our sympathy for the oh-so-relatable consequences of affluence. Let’s don our monocles and have a look:

‘Other Desert Cities’

A NYC writer returns to sunny Palm Springs for the holidays to tell her family about her new book — detailing their deeply troubled past, including the death of one son. As the nuclear family (plus an eccentric aunt played splendidly by Judith Light) banters about tennis, country clubs and what-will-people-think, its members gradually poke at each other’s vulnerabilities and versions of the truth until extreme secrets are revealed. Though taken to task in turn, the characters can seem egocentric at best and indecisive at worst. They lament the difficulty of maintaining appearances while embroiled in controversy. The political storyline makes this a worthwhile watch, and the acting is not to be missed.
Still, we would happily trade our problems for a six-figure book contract that might make mommy and daddy mad. Humility takes a surprising form when the writer (Rachel Griffiths) and her brother (Thomas Sadoski) argue who’s more depressed, with the latter offering a touching, self-effacing monologue.

‘Stick Fly’

Two brothers — a plastic surgeon (Mekhi Phifer) and a budding novelist (Dule Hill) — bring their girlfriends to the family’s summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. Everyone struggles to define their roles and earn approval. Meanwhile, hints are dropped like anvils that there may be more than meets the eye within these vaulted walls nonchalantly draped with collectible, rare artwork. Pithy references to science, sociology and literature are bandied as everyone fights to prove they’re smart. Granted, there’s a spin on this story — it’s African-Americans dealing with the stigma of upper-classism, a plight uncommon to the stage. The housekeeper (Condola Rashad) keeps it fresh — in more ways than one. In the end, some characters might not feel they are loved quite enough, but thankfully they have their status and success to keep them warm. www.stickflybroadway.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…