Sunday, 7 June 2009

THEATRE REVIEW: Smile Orange


Smile Orange (Rhone/Beckford Productions)
Director: Trevor Rhone
Cast: Donald Anderson, Gracia Thompson, Everaldo Creary and Hugh Douse
Venue: Little Little Theatre

Tyrone’s Verdict: B

A Jamaican classic if ever there was one, Smile Orange is a theatrical pleasure, brimming with humour, drama and the spirit of adventure. The renowned play from playwright Trevor Rhone, first staged in 1971, pulls audiences into a meditation on the hospitality industry, sex tourism and the economics involved without resorting to offensiveness and tastelessness. Instead, audiences are introduced to a colourful five-member cast that engage with occasional laugh-out-loud dialogue and witty one-liners while breathing life into Rhone’s timeless script.

The play starts off shakily though, and in opening scenes the action feels laboured and knotty and the comedy not as effortless, giving the impression that the actors are having trouble adapting to the material. However, as the production progresses, the performers gradually come into their own. Particularly outstanding are Everaldo Creary and Donald Anderson, who keep delivering proof of their knack for frisky humour. They step bravely into the roles of Buss Boy and Ringo, and their regular conversations on “man issues” tickle the funny bone.


HOTEL BUSINESS: Donald Anderson (right) and Everaldo Creary in Smile Orange

Set at the fictitious Mocho Beach Hotel, Smile Orange revolves around the daily experiences of members of the hotel’s kitchen and service staff, the garrulous front-desk receptionist (Gracia Thompson) and assistant manager (Hugh Douse). They expect nothing but joy and happiness and economic benefit out of their relationships with the tourists who stay at the beachfront hotel. Ringo, played with vim and verve by Anderson is the overly ambitious and experienced staff member, who tries to teach the ‘ropes’ to the lisp-laden Buss Boy. Watching the action unfold onstage, you are forced to recall those stories you’ve heard about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at some of the country’s resorts. Ringo and Buss Boy do not disappoint in this regard, portrayed with interesting characterizations.

More often than not, Smile Orange is smart, engaging and laugh-out-loud entertainment, delivered by a cast that does its best to leave a solid impression. Creary and Anderson are standouts but Thompson, Douse and Shaun Drysdale (as Joe) also turn in respectable performances. Rhone’s writing bears proof that he possesses remarkable understanding of the way people think, and as director too it is easier for him to coax out the desired result from his actors. You quickly forget the slow, unexciting start to the play as, before long, you are swept up in a series of comedic highpoints.

Smile Orange plays for a limited run at the Little Little Theatre on Tom Redcam Drive in Kingston.

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