Thursday, 16 October 2014

IT TAKES A VILLAGE: Many Moods of Marcus fuses Garvey's teachings, vibrant community spirit

ON THE SPOT: Actors in a scene from the community drama at the Theatre Place.

Drawing on a commendable storytelling narrative, spirited stage presence and youthful energy, the Dance Xpressionz troupe recently brought aspects of the Marcus Garvey story to rousing life at the Theatre Place in New Kingston — a much-welcomed Heritage Week performance attended by scores of enthusiastic high-schoolers from across the Corporate Area who openly laughed and cheered as the action unfolded.

Many Moods of Marcus is a piece of community theatre fusing history, humour and dramatics, with the timeless teachings of the late great philosopher-activist (and Jamaica's first National Hero) to craft a vibrantly entertaining production that empowers and enlightens. Best of all, in spite of the limitations of set design and other technical matters, the edutainment approach worked really well and the applause that greeted the curtain call was deservedly resounding.

The Dance Xpressionz crew (led by their fearless Artistic Director Orville Hall) are not the most expressive or nuanced actors among today's ever-expanding galaxy of new-gen Jamaican performing-arts troupes. (They excel at modern dance, their core specialty, after all.) But these are naturally talented performers who know how to be convincing and relatable when it comes to spinning a uniquely Jamaican story, qualities that helped to elevate the show.

Special kudos to Intrique Cassells (saucy college chick Sabrina), Shavarr McFarlane (suave area newcomer Sheldon) and Stacey-Ann Facey (motherly Miss Marjorie,who runs the local cook shop), standouts in a strong 10-member cast.

Many Moods yields a realistic portrait of a small inner-city community whose residents have come together to form a Marcus Garvey club, intent on empowering the young minds and saving the community centre from demolition. But try as they may, they can't escape the scourge of crime, relationship drama, and youth-driven conflict that threaten to thwart their progress. Still, unity and optimism should always win in the end — and as the story affirms you can't go wrong with inspirational lessons from the Garvey school of thought. Tyrone's Verdict: B

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