In spite of the letdowns and minor flops that littered the past 12 months, there were those stage productions that fully reminded me of the singular power of Jamaican theatre to entertain, delight and astonish. So let’s be grateful that in a year of miscellaneous fortunes, there was adequate fare of exemplary quality to allow this committed critic to count to ten. That said, here are the 10 best plays that graced our stage in 2011:
1. Where Is My Father (*Best of 2011*)
An engrossingly intense and sure-footed domestic drama from playwright Basil Dawkins buoyed by strong acting, smart writing, and superb direction. It’s undoubtedly Dawkins at the height of his creative powers.
2. Not About Eve
The powerhouse trio of Nadean Rawlins, Carol Lawes and neophyte Lisa Williams excel under the directorial gaze of Brian Heap in this outstanding University Players revival of Karl Williams’ insightful meditation on women, work, and sexuality.
3. Charlie’s Angels
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but there’s nothing remotely frigid about this exothermic and well-acted Patrick Brown comedy-drama that features excellent work all-around, but especially in the case of actors Glen Campbell, Teisha Duncan and Camille Davis.
While persuasively illuminating the hard-knock experiences of residents in the fictitious Mucky Pen, Dahlia Harris simultaneously holds up a crystal-clear mirror to the standard of living in Jamaica at a time when the country is marking a milestone as important as the Golden Jubilee. A clever and frequently compelling piece of theatre.
5. A Gift For Mom
A lavishly gifted ensemble breathes full-bodies life into this buoyant Basil Dawkins’ revival that reinforces the talents of Ruth HoShing and Alwyn Scott while making offer a proper introduction to the potential of rising stars Regina Beavers and Fontain Jones.
6. Last Call
Buoyed by its rich musical score and wildly vintage appeal, Keiran King’s period musical drama won over audiences and rewarded their interest with a heartwarming tale of friendship, growing up, and misplaced loyalties. The year’s best musical.
7. The Button-Hole Bandit
Whimsical and delightfully playful with just the right touch of vibrancy, this Edna Manley College production brought a winsome mix of fun and visual splendour to the stage – and a breakout supporting turn from blossoming actress Joanna Johnson.
Adapting Janice Liddell’s soulful, oestrogen-rich work, director Fabian Thomas and a cast marked by youth and experience did justice to the piece, tapping into the pain and opulent insight at the core of the story. Julene Robinson and Faith Gordon were memorably fabulous.
Commitment and conviction on the part of the youthful actors coupled with the late Stafford Ashani’s piercing, in-your-face script made this one of the most disturbing, yet genuinely diverse, productions to grace the stage this year. Another sturdy effort from the Edna Manley College.
10. Acts of the Apostles
Full of spectacle and the occasional show-stopping number, the Father HoLung & Friends operatic musical was at its most persuasive when the dazzling visuals melded with the song and dance to create a wonderful feast of striking images and ear-pleasing sounds.