ALL IN THE FAMILY: Tension mounts in this telling scene from the provocative four-hander.
As far as the dating world goes, you quickly realize you can't please everybody — family and stranger alike. That's precisely what audiences are able to conclude after watching Forbidden, Basil Dawkins' brow-raising and intermittently funny look at relationship arcs and family dynamics, whose recent revival at the Little Theatre also marked a collaborative first for two of Jamaica's most magnetic actors: Leonie Forbes (last seen in For My Daughter) and Earle Brown (Puppy Love).
Directed by Toni-Kaye Dawkins and co-starring Zandriann Maye and Damian Radcliffe, Forbidden offers a wide-eyed take on what happens when a father and son clash over the new women in their lives. It weaves comedy, dramatic intensity and a whiff of daring psychological character study, as Dawkins leaves us with a heightened sense of the myriad factors that come into play when one decides to make that most personal of choices: choosing to share your future with someone — and the disapproval it can attract from loved ones.
The action opens when Lucy (Maye), a mysterious "dancer" and single mother of three accompanies Percy (Brown), an aging divorce home from a fun-filled night on the town. She winds up staying for a long night of talk and flirtation that Percy finds both enticing and unsettling. And he's got good reason to be on his guard. Sharp-witted and as calculating as they come, Lucy is a young woman with a game plan — and Maye clearly relishes the chance to play her.
Before long, Lucy has got Percy eating out of the palm of her hands. By the time his twenty-something son Bradley makes a surprising return home from studies abroad, the lovebirds are practically head over heels, but they are positively rocked to the core when Brad formally introduces his lover, Sister Tammie (Leonie Forbes), a Rastafarian warrior woman approaching 70 — who turns out to be Lucy's estranged mother! To say the least, Daddy isn't a happy camper and so fireworks ensue.
The dialogue occasionally teeters into melodrama, but the actors have rarely, if ever, been better. Radcliffe and Maye bring infectious enthusiasm to their parts, as they keep pace with Brown (robustly confident) and Forbes, who brings thrilling authority to everything she does. Forbidden may be yet another ripped-from-real-life story about the ties that bind and affairs of the heart but, more than anything, it's a solid and satisfying work whose tide of emotions and refreshing perspectives on commitment and compromise offer real insight into the lives of others. Tyrone's Verdict: B+