Monday, 28 October 2013

MAN OF THE HOUSE: Winston Bell brings charisma, conviction to The Johnsons

FATHER FIGURE: The actor brings it as a tyrant of a dad in latest play.

Winston 'Bello' Bell has built an enviable acting career in theatre that includes acclaimed performances as such larger-than-life patriarchs as Old Story Time's Pa Ben and Louis Marriott's Bedward.

In his latest outing, in Angie Binn's funny but supremely lengthy family-dysfunction saga The Trouble With The Johnsons, Bell shed his wholesome paternal image to play the tyrranical and overprotective (and, yes, larger-than-life) Cornelius Johnson, a retired Army officer who, like The Sound of Music's Captain Von Trapp, governs his household with an iron fist and an ever-present whistle. Wife Crania (a delightful Rosie Murray) and daughters Chlorine and Chlamydia, whom he so named to keep hormone-ravaged boys at bay, are at his mercy, desperate to break the shackles. 

Unsurprisingly, things reach boiling point, and it takes the intervention of a rather unorthodox family counsellor (David Crossgill) and his outside-the-box methods to patch things up, during a mightily amusing house-call session. Dawnett Hinds-Frazer bags a few laughs of her own as deaf-mute maid Trixie (a name that was clearly not left up to chance) and Mark 'Bones' Brown nabs a few small scenes as Chlamydia's secret lover. 

But, ideally cast, this is Bell's show, and the ace writing-directing duo of Angie Binns and David Tulloch were wise to keep him front and centre, feeding him clever lines like "Yuh nuh haffi look good; yuh married." 

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