Wednesday, 13 February 2019

THE TIES THAT BIND: Tough love and painful truths make a brutal mix in Maas Mat Comes to Town

UNFINISHED LIVES: Lowe, Brown and HoShing in scenes from the play.

Maas Mat Comes To Town (Basil Dawkins Productions)
Director: E. Wayne McDonald
Cast: Earle Brown, Ruth HoShing and Maylynne Lowe
Venue: Little Little Theatre, Kingston

“YOUR sins catch up with you, that’s why yuh ah suffer so.” Is that the kind of thing a young lady should be saying to her mother? Not in the civilized world, but Deslin (Maylynne Lowe) is beyond frustrated.

Trapped at home with her bothersome, Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, Dotsy (Ruth HoShing), her life has become a living hell. You feel her pain. Dotsy is a handful and plays mean tricks on her daughter, like emptying her full bottle of rum into a flower pot.

Unsurprisingly, they seem headed for a violent clash, as action heats up in Maas Mat Comes to Town, playwright Basil Dawkins’ latest offering, which picks up where last season’s production, Pressure Drop, left off.

Deslin’s husband, Luke (Canute Fagan), is no longer around, leaving her, penniless, to care for her sick mother all by herself. Their time together exposes the massive cracks in their mother-daughter relationship, and sometimes you are left shaking your head as their verbal clashes intensify. 

Thankfully for Deslin, her father-in-law and Luke’s old man, Mat (Earle Brown) is on his way to the house to ease some of the burden. But, interestingly, Maas Mat’s arrival only serves to complicate an already tense situation. Can’t we all just get along?

What Dawkins underscores with this family narrative (engrossing, but it occasionally loses its verve) is that family life can get very messy, and it takes real patience and commitment to overcome the hurdles. For some folks, living with certain relatives feels like a prison sentence, and that’s precisely how Deslin feels. Sad but true.

Lowe’s performance cuts like glass, as she delves into the role, evoking not only Deslin’s frustrations but her deep-seated fears and her vices. Did she make an epic mistake in marrying Luke?

HoShing’s feisty Dotsy is still a hot ball of manic energy, and as Maas Mat, Brown digs deep, mustering up the stamina to keep up.

Coming off a stellar remount of Uptown Bangarang, Dawkins and director E. Wayne McDonald reap solid results with their latest collaboration. Minor flaws aside, Maas Mat Comes to Town is a solid, well-acted play that really gets to you, as it takes a hard and unflinching look at family dynamics, love and hate, and life and death in all their guises. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

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