Monday, 13 October 2014

THIS JAMAICAN LIFE: Mek Wi Laugh delivers a feast of broad humour and raw energy

SHALL WE DANCE? Hot Seat reporter (Murray) makes a play for Bounty Killer (Anderson). Below, Barrett and Drysdale cut loose.

Has Donald 'Iceman' Anderson found a winning formula for pitching spot-on celeb impersonations? The award-winning actor certainly has a knack for it and clearly relishes every opportunity to put his magic to work. He gets plenty of chances to shine in Jamaica Mek Wi Laugh: Di Revue, the hilarious and very well-acted TV-to-theatre translation of Lady Rennae's hit comedy series that offers lively send-ups of Jamaican popular culture, today's hottest gossip, and the notable figures who are shaping the times in which we live. 

A balanced show directed by David Tulloch (who doesn't hold the actors on too tight a leash), Mek Wi Laugh has its moments of comical ebullience but there are a few instances that also fail to spark. Still, you can't deny the wit and keen observations that go into making the production a must-see for those who love nothing more than a belly-busting evening at the theatre. 

Riding high on unfiltered energy, Anderson and the crew prove more than up to the task, making light work of the dozen or sketches — whether they fall under the News & Views umbrella or one of the other segments that divide the show in very much the same way as the animated TV version. The biggest laughs come with Rosie Murray playing a coy Hot Seat reporter interviewing the likes of entertainers Shabba Ranks, Elephant Man and Bounty Killer — all portrayed by with uncanny precision and razor-sharp timing by Anderson. 

Not to be outshone, Suzette Barrett nabs a few scenes of her own as a rowdy streetwalker in "Church Invasion" and a pesky caller to the police station in "Offi-sah", one of the drollest sketches to appear in both the TV and stage versions. Relative newcomer Shaun Drysdale, meanwhile, proves he can roll with the punches of his more seasoned co-stars, while Murray gets her mettle sorely tested as an all-rounder with bit parts ranging from a woman who has an altercation with (of all things) an airport vending machine to an elderly school marm with a secret taste for hardcore dancehall. 

Fans of the Mek Wi Laugh television series needn't worry, as the show has lost none of its oomph or irresistible brio in making the leap from screen to stage. Daring, clever and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, Jamaica Mek Wi Laugh adequately satisfies, delivering on the promise of its inviting title. Tyrone's Verdict: B

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