THE MORE THE MERRIER: A mix of solid dramas and hilarious comedies comprise our year-in-review countdown.
With the Actor Boy nominations recently announced, it should come as no surprise that here at TALLAWAH we've spent the past few days reflecting on the most outstanding productions and performances we were fortunate to witness in the past year. And though dozens of notable works jostled for top honours, we managed to whittle our list down ― in no particular order ― to a solid top ten, reflective of the very best Jamaican theatre had to offer:
VENUS: The School of Drama turned it out with this well-acted and deeply affecting version of the acclaimed Suzan Lori-Parks historical drama, inspired by the real-life story of the Venus Hottentot and anchored by a sturdy, star-making turn by Eden Gibson, a young actress we’d love to see more of.
FOR MY DAUGHTER: It doesn’t get any better than Leonie Forbes in her magisterial prime, Terri Salmon and Rosie Murray giving some of the best work of their careers, Akeem Mignott’s emergence as a bonafide leading man and a smash breakout turn by Rushae Watson – all coming together in David Tulloch’s most enigmatic domestic drama to date.
DREAM ON MONKEY MOUNTAIN: Few Jamaican directors bring as much intellect and innovative daring to their work as Trevor Nairne, who helmed this spellbinding amphitheatre rendering of the Walcott classic, put on by the School of Drama. Chris McFarlane in the male lead of Makak and rising star Alicia Taylor in the supportive role of The Inspector gave note-perfect performances.
DIVORCE PAPERS: Cheating spouses, jilted lovers and a slice of revenge helped thicken the plot in this latest powerhouse drama by prolific playwright Basil Dawkins, who did audiences a big favour by giving Oliver Samuels his most gratifying dramatic role in years. Costars Maylynne Lowe, Dennis Titus and Ruth HoShing are gems.
PRINCESS BOONOONOONOOS: Hands down, writer/lyricist Barbara Gloudon has nailed the art of penning catchy tunes that haunt you. Weeks later, we're still vibing to "Big Up Miss Lovely" and "Breaking News", two of the most rhythmic ditties in the 2014 LTM Pantomime that wins you over with its mix of exuberant choral dynamics, vivid colour palette and irrepressible community spirit.
LAFF IF OFF: Oliver Mair gifted comedy lovers with this laugh-out-loud musical revue that managed to tickle the funny bone while delivering timely social commentary that provoked serious though, as it showcased a dynamic team of actors who move seamlessly between the intensely dramatic and more lighthearted moments.
SAVING ALLIGATOR HIGH: As we've come to expect, Patrick Brown expertly combined humour and unflinching candour in crafting this very funny and true-to-life expose, set at an innercity high schol grappling with one major crisis after another. Bonus: first-rate ensemble acting and solid writing helped make it a clear triumph.
LOTTO MONEY: Greed and chance made for strange bedfellows in this Pablo Hoilett-directed three-hander that reintroduced us to the wily charms of Dorothy Cunningham and reminded us why Munair Zacca and Peter Heslop are two of the most reliable character actors of their generation.
FORBIDDEN: Last October Basil Dawkins dusted off this award-winning potboiler (full of family drama, prejudice and relationship dynamics) and remounted it for a new generation with terrific results. While Zandriann Maye and Damion Radcliffe turned up the heat on their respective careers, Patrick Earle and Leonie Forbes burned holes in the Little Theatre stage.
FUNNY KIND 'A LOVE: Camille Davis' incandescent performance as the liquored-up truth-teller Josephine was just one of the many highlights in a show brimming with Grade A work (Courtney Wilson, please stand up!) ― and yet more evidence that Patrick Brown can write about practically anything, mixing punchlines and keen, very Jamaican observations for a riotously funny theatrical experience.
> HAVE YOUR SAY: What was your favourite Jamaican play of 2014? Tell us in the comments below.