Wednesday, 19 October 2016

CHEATER’S PRAYER: Jilted lovers supply the heat in thought-provoking Boiling Point

BRINGING UP BABY: A solid cast brings to life this emotionally charged domestic drama.

Watching the action unfold in the new play Boiling Point at the Theatre Place in New Kingston, you sometimes want nothing more than to scream at the bad-behaving characters on stage, “Stop it! You’re middle-aged! Get a grip!” Yes, things get very messy in this emotionally charged potboiler centred on two fairly well-to-do married couples – the Hendersons and the McNabs – who could have a Jerry Springer appearance in their future.

Writer Dorothy Cunningham, who displays a firm grasp of Jamaican-type relationship scenarios – does a clever job painting a frighteningly realistic portrait of infidelity, secret lovers, danger and desire and what happens when our “needs” are not met. This is unadulterated David Tulloch territory, so Cunningham couldn’t have asked for a more ideal collaborator than the agent provocateur himself, who goes to town with the story, making some effective directorial choices as far as pacing and keeping the story sharp and real goes.

As for the actors bringing the story to life, it’s a fairly solid bunch of veterans and relative newcomers delivering convincing work. We saw the play twice last weekend. Friday night’s presentation was seamlessly handled, but on Sunday the energy and consistency left a lot to be desired. Still, it’s the scandal and intrigue of the plot that keeps you riveted regardless. You simply must know how this saga will wrap up.

Housewife Marcia Henderson (Maia Chung) is at her wit’s end grappling with raising an infant daughter and shielding herself from the slings and arrows that come with her marriage to Desmond (Patrick Earle), a deep-in-trouble businessman who’s just returned to Jamaica after two years in Boston. From the get-go they are at each other’s throats over Desmond’s womanizing, his shady business deals, their bank accounts and who is really the father of Marcia’s baby!

Could it be Desmond’s hyperactive cousin Brian, who also has his hands full, juggling a brazen affair with Marcia and dodging questions from his wife Camille (Heather Grant, fabulous), a career-driven drama queen who desperately wants a child of her own but for whom climbing up the corporate ladder seems more pressing? Cam is in for a rude awakening, however, when the pot boils over, sending pitch-black smoke and steam everywhere.

Meanwhile, Michael Nicholson rounds out the cast as Clive, an over-zealous rent-a-cop who is eyeing a promotion in the force and watching Desmond’s every move.

Overall, Boiling Point is humorous and thought-provoking theatre that will hit close to home for anyone who’s ever paid a price for love. The Cunningham/Tulloch exploration of compromise, sacrifice and marriage on the rocks is brutally frank and reminds you that, when all is said and done, relationships are serious hard work. Tyrone’s Verdict: B

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