Tuesday, 6 June 2017

GROWING PAINS: Well-made ‘Nanny Goat’ blends hilarity with hard-hitting issues

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Harris and Fletcher play besties who land in hot water.

CONSIDER this: are parents who keep tabs on their kids on all the social media sites and know where they are 24/7 being overly protective? Given the perilous state of affairs globally, and the rampant attacks on children, can any parent be considered overly cautious?

Janet (Renae Williams, superb), the matriarch at the centre of the entertaining and thought-provoking new play Wah Sweet Nanny Goat, is one such parent who seems smothering, when it comes to her daughter, 15year-old Angel (very well played by Crystal Fletcher). But when the unthinkable happens, and her precious baby girl lands in hot water, you realize that Janet did not have all the bases covered.

Written and directed by Fabian Barracks, Wah Sweet Nanny Goat is a well-staged comedy-drama that tackles such issues as parenting, family skeletons, teen pregnancy and choices and their life-altering consequences. The play, which balances laugh-out-loud comedy with dramatic tension, has its hiccups, but it scores high marks for vigorously dealing with the issues as opposed to glossing over them, as a lesser-skilled writer would be tempted to do.

It’s at once clear that Barracks (Bad Apple, Barrel Pickney) cares about these issues and opts use colourful, well-drawn characters and a well-orchestrated plot to tell the story. It’s arguably his strongest work to date.

A committed Christian and single mom, who is every stylishly attired, Janet has raised Angel to study hard, say her prayers and make mommy proud. But when Angel meets Tyrone (Rory Roberts), a 27-year-old smooth-talker who spoils her, she starts wearing her halo tilted until she ditches it for good. Her best friend and classmate Prada (Christina Fletcher) is along for the ride. Together, they come off as a pair of boy-crazy teenagers enjoying their youth and having fun.

But things take a serious turn when Angel finds out she is pregnant with Tyrone’s child, and what started out as a romantic romp starts spiraling downward. Angel knows her mother will be furious but, thankfully, her tough-cookie aunt Daisy (the resourceful Jodian Findley) is there to help soften the blows. But Janet being Janet, there will be hell to pay and, as expected, the fireworks ensue – and some long-hidden secrets come tumbling out of the closet.

Though we were expecting Barracks to take a fresh approach to that pivotal scene that brings all his shows to a climax, he’s obviously sticking with a technique that produces the desired results. 

In the end, Wah Sweet Nanny Goat manages to cast an interrogative light on subject matters and scenarios that resonate with Jamaicans of all walks, mixed with crowd-pleasing entertainment. But, most important of all, it forces the parents in the audience to consider: how well do you know your child? Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

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