Tuesday, 15 January 2019

ON THE COAST: Ambitious Negril strikes a chord despite technical challenges

TOUGH CHAT: Richards (as Ras-I), left, and  Facey (as Detective Brown).

Negril (DPT Productions)
Director: Oneil Richards
Cast: Aurelio Holmes, Natasha Heron, Yvette Richards and Oneil Richards
Venue: Stephanie Hall Auditorium (Holy Childhood High)

ALL is not as it seems in Negril, a commendably written and acted theatrical drama-thriller from DPT Productions, headed by budding playwright-producer Oneil Richards, who not only wrote and directed the production (which recently completed a semi-islandwide tour) but also has a starring role.

Richards plays Ras-I, a cool-conscious Rastafarian who runs a small natural-juices business with his partner and equally good-natured friend Ras Juvie (Aurelio Holmes). They work in the bustling tourist mecca of Negril, occupying work space at the Virtuous Mall, next to Speedy (Melvin Miller) who “sells movies” and Cutey (Natasha Heron), a boutique owner and single mother to schoolboy Akeem (Nathan Fagan).

They are struggling but hardworking people just trying to make ends meet. So you understand their frustration at being constantly harassed by Detective Brown (Donovan Facey), a crooked cop who reminds them that “this place run under order. If you don’t pay, you can’t stay.”

Things get even more interesting when three sassy girlfriends arrive to soak up the sun and get their groove on while on vacation. Ras-I, meanwhile, musters up the courage to reveal his feelings for Shernett (Yvette Richards), the ‘empress’ he sees all the time because she lives nearby but has never approached. Together, they hold some deep conversations about life and love and the Biblical story of Leah, Jacob and Rachel.

But Detective Brown is the pestilence that will not go away. Something’s got to give. And it does – in a clever twist that gives the story some jolt and a great climax.

In spite of its shortcomings (poor lighting, sound glitches and other technical flaws), Negril is an ambitious little play that strikes a chord and makes a solid statement about extortion, criminality and undercover police work, juxtaposed with such themes as faith, family and the power of friendship.

As one character wisely observes, “We expect better from those who should know better, but we don’t expect perfection.” Tyrone’s Verdict: B

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