Sunday, 24 February 2013

LAW & ORDER: Boy Blue coloured by laugh-out-loud humour, uneven execution

WHO'S BOSS: Martin, Samuels, and Titus share an intense scene.

Boy Blue (OSME Productions)
Director: Oliver Samuels
Cast: Oliver Samuels, Dennis Titus, Dean Martin, and Audrey Reid
Venue: Theatre Place, New Kingston

At the core of Ginger Knight’s Boy Blue is a deep-seated look at attitudes toward authority and the tendencies of those in positions of power, regardless of class or creed, to abuse the trust invested in them. Oliver Samuels heads a talented cast that can now be seen lighting up the stage at New Kingston’s Theatre Place in a revival of this very funny and energetic 1986 play. 

As far as this latest revival goes, it’s riotously funny indeed and has no shortage of energy, but it’s an uneven production marked by a solid first half and a second act that lacks the steam to truly bring the show home. Fortunately, the lively pace, decent set design and lighting, and believable performances keep the whole thing from capsizing. 

Samuels, as could be expected, is a hoot in the titular role of a corrupt, greedy police corporal who has made it his mission to wreak havoc on the lives of the inner-city residents he dislikes. Chief among them, Bello (Dennis Titus) and Stanley (Dean Martin), a criminal duo that specializes in breaking into houses and making off with expensive jewelry. At the same time, Boy Blue has his eyes on Bello’s fair-skinned woman, Precious (Melisha Holness), and will stop at nothing to make her his own, even if it means throwing her man in jail on some trumped-up charges. 

It’s a fascinating potboiler populated by nostalgia, blackmail, intimate relationships, friendship and the seriously back-stabbing type of betrayal. Though these actors aren’t possessed of the greatest levels of expression, they know how to perform naturally and consequently seem to fit ideally into the roles – particularly Audrey Reid, who draws on her well-nurtured gift for spiky comedy in the role of the two-faced Hyacinth, while Titus manages to make Bello’s lisp a convincing aspect of his characterization. 

Overall, in spite of the shortcomings, Boy Blue delivers vivid moments of comic resonance, owing perhaps to the fact that Knight has long been a playwright (whether exploring power or poppyshow) who knows how to be laugh-out-loud hilarious without being coarse or lewd. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

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