‘Bootycandy’ vulgar but insightful

“Bootycandy,” the Wilma Theater’s season-ending production, is going to challenge the sturdiest of theatergoers. It’s a challenge worth meeting.

Playwright Robert O’Hara, who also directed the Wilma production, has written 11 scenes, each one dealing with a different element in the lives of several recurring African-American characters. Most of what is handled, be warned, is sexual in nature. The language is as raw and profane as any you’re ever likely to encounter on a stage.

Sex acts — most of them gay sex acts — are described in great detail. I know several people who found the play vulgar and without any redeeming value. While there were times when I found myself cringing, there were others when the characters’ honesty and humanity was both hilarious and moving.

There’s no question this is X-Rated. There’s no question it’s often heavy handed. There’s also no question that “Bootycandy” in the Wilma’s impressive production (which runs through June 16) can, if you let it, touch your heart and make you care for the characters, regardless of the number of vulgarities they spew or sex acts they describe.

Ross Beschler, Jocelyn Bioh, Phillip James Brannon, Benja Kay Thomas, and Lance Coadie Williams comprise the top-drawer ensemble. All play many characters of varying ages, sexes, and sexual orientations.

Clint Ramos designed the spectacular and clever turntable-driven sets and the often witty costumes. The other designers were Drew Billiau (lighting) and Lindsay Jones (sound). There were a couple of times — particularly in the scene called “Dreamin’ in Church” — when the amplification was so loud that the words were lost.

“Bootycandy,” along with being raw and profane, is also literate, insightful and moving. It’s hard to get through the profanity’s surface noise, but if you can you’ll be surprisingly rewarded.