Friday, 16 November 2018

DRAMAFEST 2018: Two provocative plays look at class, pride and family dynamics

WRONG ADDRESS: The negative social forces that prey on impressionable and vulnerable Jamaican youngsters, as well as the scourge of poverty, bubble to the surface in Step Up Ghetto Yout’, a short community-theatre production that opened this year’s Dramafest (put on by Freedom Ministry) at the Phoenix Theatre. It centres on Twister (Lachim Cunningham), a promising schoolboy who wants a better life than what the zinc fence/standpipe setup of No Man’s Land is offering. But his close pal Slinger (David Smith) is a bad influence, eager to immerse him in the rudebwoy lifestyle. Luckily, Twister’s tough-cookie schoolmate and neighbour Ginger (Karen Wright) is keeping tabs on their so-called friendship. The play’s sizeable cast is comprised of other folks also trying to make it amidst life’s harsh realities: struggling shopkeeper Miss Pat (Creslyn Thomas), a deportee they call Dippie (AndrĂ© Alleyne), matriarch Miss Precious (Karen Fray), a fallen-on-hard-times big shot named Slick (Mark Rush) and the ghetto-fabulous Poochie (Staci-Ann Goodison), who has ‘big plans’ for Ginger. When a mysterious fire destroys living quarters in their tenement yard, they quickly realize they must put aside their differences and unite in the name of survival. In the end, Step Up Ghetto Yout’ is both entertaining and thought-provoking, examining the plight of the lower-income class with ample humour and utter realism.

DIRTY LAUNDRY: Somewhere between the realms of August: Osage County and the TV hit Empire you’ll find the antics of the family members at the heart of Granddaddy Legacy which, in spite of occasionally melodramatic moments, crackles with dramatic tension and emotional heft. Patriarch Mr. Percy has died, and his departure prompts bereaved relatives to show their true colours. All the deep-seated resentment, jealousies and long-buried rage come to the fore. Adult siblings Dimples (Patricia Martin), Donna (Karen Wright), Peter (Mark Rush) and Desrine (Paula Thompson) are at loggerheads over Daddy’s dead lef’, much to the dismay of widow Mrs. Percy (Karen Fray). The action comes to a boil when it’s time for the contents of the will to be disclosed. But things take an explosive turn when granddaughter Sue (Stacy-Ann Morgan-Duvalier) phones the authorities to expose shocking family secrets. It’s a crafty little play, full of grit, wit and convincing performances. B+

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