Wednesday, 9 October 2013

PLAY MATES: Terrific Toy Boy banks on humour, truth and jest

DYNAMIC DUO: Lowe (right) and McFarlane bring star power to a new revival.

Toy Boy (Basil Dawkins Productions)
Director: Toni-Kaye Dawkins
Cast: Chris McFarlane and Maylynne Lowe
Venue: Little Theatre, Kingston

While it entertainingly engages with notions of need, loneliness, desperation and the kindness of strangers, Basil Dawkins' Toy Boy, currently in revival at the little Theatre in Kingston, notably features a pair of veteran Jamaican actors (Maylynne Lowe and Chris McFarlane) rendering fascinating portraits of two lonely souls who find each other under the unlikeliest of circumstances and scale colossal hurdles (class division not the least among them) to give themselves a real chance at a worthwhile relationship.

Of course, as a playwright Dawkins has an extensive body of work, but Toy Boy is easily among his best written projects, full of keen observations about human nature and societal hypocrisy.

For those not familiar with this terrific two-hander (famously originated in 2004 by Barbara McCalla and Volier Johnson), the play essentially follows Josephine Benedict, an unlucky-in-love surviving spouse who takes a homeless but artistically gifted bum (McFarlane as the loquacious Festus 'Wrap Up' Lewis) into her well-appointed home and gradually transforms him into something resembling a proper human being, a gentleman, a potential lover.

As you try to wrap your head around what could possibly prompt a dame of Josephine's ilk (social pariah or not) to make such a move, one is blissfully distracted by the easy rapport of these two fine actors and how well they play off each other. For the record, this latest revival of Toy Boy marks the directorial debut of Toni-Kaye Dawkins (the writer's daughter), who gives the production a sprightly pace that matches the vivid, stylishly decorated and well-lit mise-en-scène.

Basil Dawkins, like his industry colleague Patrick Brown, has a way of unearthing vibrant humour while expertly blending the comic and the dramatic, and Toy Boy is simply brimming with wit and frequently clever dialogue, with occasional references to concepts as eternally ubiquitous as feminism and chauvinism. Tyrone's Verdict: B+

Toy Boy is on a limited run at the Little Theatre, Oct. 4-6 and 11-13. Tickets: 926-6129, 926-6603.

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