Monday, 19 August 2013

THE RACE IS ON: Surveying the current theatre landscape, TALLAWAH tries to locate a few Best Production contenders

PLAY ON: The ladies of Thicker Than Water share stage time.

With the year already half over, where do things stand on the awards front in Jamaican theatre? Granted, big awards-baiting plays tend to emerge during the final five months of the year, but considering that past Best Production winners, the Annie Palmer musical White Witch among them, were mounted in the first half of the year, it's only natural to wonder whether any shows from the opening half of 2013 could end up making the cut come February-March.

Personally, I'm finding the pickings exceedingly slim. Still, the year's first seven months haven't been completely barren. The workplace drama Thicker Than Water has earned fantastic reviews, particularly for stars Dahlia Harris and Shawna-Kae Burns, while a handful of other performances -- for instance, Audrey Reid in Embassy Saga and Neekah Whyte in Blood Wedding -- have an outside chance at being remembered come year-end.

The winsome Taboo is also an early contender, and some degree of buzz also revolves around Paternal Instinct and Ladies of the Night, which (like Taboo) boasts a stellar cast and a superb script.

With summer now making way for fall, a pair of new shows may also find themselves in the trophy hunt. After just missing out on some top awards with last year's musical comedy revue Fifty 2 Rahtid, Aston Cooke returns with the youthful Internet Affair, which, like Angie Binns' The Trouble with the Johnsons, could not only reel in sizeable audiences (at the Pantry and Stages Theatreplex, respectively) but also catch the attention of voters.

As previous awards seasons have shown, the best theatre productions are usually those buoyed by a fascinating premise, sharp writing and affecting performances from the entire cast. Here's hoping the works of the next five months can deliver all that.

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