Friday, 3 August 2018

DESPERATE MEASURES: Two new plays of the season put the spotlight on broken families and troubled teens

THIS BOY’S LIFE: What doesn’t kill you will reveal what you are truly made of. That’s the most fitting way to sum up the terrifying ordeal that young Timmy Drinkwater (Christopher Wallace) has to endure in Homes, the latest theatrical offering from fast-rising playwright Webster McDonald (Blood, Trapped). Working with the talented, committed students who make up Tacius Golding’s multi-award-winning drama club, McDonald has crafted a provocative, true-to-life story of broken families, youthful angst and injustice. At school, Timmy’s mates torment him; at home his parents beat him and label him a problem child. The boy’s life is a recurring nightmare. Shipped off to a boys’ home run by a stern headmaster (Kevin Foster), Timmy’s troubles continue. He is humiliated by everyone, especially the other boys who go as far as pushing his head in the toilet. But Timmy shows some toughness and courage when he finally decides to stand up for himself. McDonald, who elicits commanding choral work and commendable individual turns from his cast, sheds light on the desperation and quiet struggles affecting vulnerable young people in high and low society – and the steely resolve it takes to survive and emerge whole on the other side. B

THE GIRL WHO GOT AWAY: Young & Wreckless earns the soap-opera reference of its title, thanks to the goings-on of its colourful characters who range from 18-year-old Kayon Brown (Crystal Fletcher) and the married man (Junior Williams as Max Russell) she’s having relations with to her take-no-mess father Joe (Ricky Rowe), her nosy BFF Teeta (Daniela Gordon) and her awkward but well-meaning schoolmate Lamar (Ryan Graham) who wants Kayon all for himself. The writer/director duo of David Tulloch and first-timer Orlando Sinclair have cooked up a potboiler that’s as spicy as it is scandalous, exploring temptation, trust and the ties that bind. Standout performances come from Fletcher (last seen in Wah Sweet Nanny Goat) who captures the emboldened attitude of a young miss who knows her sex appeal is her power; and Williams, who nails Max’s desperation in the face of a crumbling marriage and being overpowered by his feelings for the side-chick. But it is Rowe who brings the heat as the overprotective and cash-strapped single dad, who doesn’t need much to tick him off. The plot points wrap up a bit too neatly at the end, given all the messiness that unfolds. Still, you are left with an appreciation for the humour, the occasionally witty banter and the invaluable life lessons imparted. B

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