Saturday, 25 August 2012

FROM COLUMBUS TO CASHPOT: ‘Yard’ feels like home but lacks a spark

MAKING A SCENE: Campbell (left) and Menou.

Yard 2012 (Jambiz Prods.)
Director: Patrick Brown
Cast: Glen Campbell, Courtney Wilson, Sharee McDonald-Russell and Jean-Paul Menou
Venue: Centrestage, New Kingston

Putting a satirical spin on history is a tricky undertaking; you either nail it or you don’t. Patrick Brown’s new comedic revue Yard 2012, currently doing business at New Kingston’s Centrestage Theatre, ambitiously aims to reimagine aspects of our vast and colourful history intertwined with fast-paced comedy and music, all in the spirit of Jamaica 50. And while the show isn’t a total bust, for me, it lacks genuine vibrancy – and that unmistakable spark that has come to define the best of the prolific playwright.

Sporadically lively, sometimes leaden, Yard 2012 does a commendable job of encapsulating significant moments and characters in Jamaican history and culture – from the advent of Columbus and the abolition of slavery, leading all the way up to this era of Cashpot and Vybz Kartel – but it’s the show’s overall comedic quotient I have a problem with. It leaves much to be desired.

Still, it’s not all bad news. On the upside, Glen Campbell, assuming multiple roles throughout, offers a hilariously mean interpretation of armed-and-dangerous top cop Renato Adams, complete with shades and protective head gear. Sharee McDonald-Russell also shines, but especially in her brief moments as a pregnant and giggling Yendi Phillipps and as soloist on a poignantly rendered Freedom Song.

Elsewhere, the production, which serves up an encyclopaedic range of guest ‘appearances’ – from Annie Palmer, Nanny and Osama Bin Laden to Kartel, Bounty and Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet – doesn’t succeed as much in hooking your interest.

Where Fifty 2 Rahtid (another Jamaica 50-inspired revue) manages to be, by turns, wittily observant and fiercely funny, Yard 2012, boasting a characteristically effective set and lighting, eventually comes up short on the requisite charm and imagination to incite a bonafide laugh riot. Tyrone’s Verdict: B-

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