‘Barbecue’ at the Public Theater an exciting experimental comedy

Robert O’Hara has another hit on his hands.

It may be impossible to write an informative review of Robert O’Hara’s untamed and unpredictable comedy “Barbecue” without giving away its major plot twists, but I’ll give it a shot.

O’Hara gained the attention of Off-Broadway theatergoers last season with “Bootycandy,” a wild collection of sketches about a gay black man, which resembled a graduate school seminar on race and gender mixed with “Saturday Night Live.”

In addition to race, “Barbecue” tackles substance abuse, family dynamics, class, tell-all memoirs, the shameless pursuit of fame, manipulation of the truth and countless other topics in an experimental, over-the-top style.

It opens with four eccentric, trashy-looking adult siblings (including Constance Shulman of “Orange Is the New Black”) at a public park located somewhere in Middle America, as they prepare for what looks like a party but is really a surprise intervention for their drug-addicted sister.

After just a few minutes, there is a sudden pause, and an all-black cast arrives to portray the same characters. Not long after that, the original cast returns, without any kind of explanation for the changes.

The first act concludes with a major revelation, and the comparatively toned-down second act essentially serves as a discussion of what we’ve already seen, with a few more surprises thrown in for good measure.

“Barbecue” may be rough and scattershot, but it is intellectually vigorous, often hilarious and quite exciting.

“Barbecue” runs through Nov. 1 at Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., publictheater.org

MATT WINDMAN. amNewYork theater critic