Saturday, 20 April 2019

TIME & PLACE: Painful secrets, family drama give Special Cuts its sharp edge

BUSINESS HOURS: Actors sharing scenes from the high-energy production.

Special Cuts (Dredz Productions)
Director: David Tulloch
Cast: Kadeem Wilson, Sabrina Thomas, Oraine Meikle and Aisha Davis
Venue: Phoenix Theatre, Kingston

THE drama and tensions and deep-seated resentments that can manifest when people attempt to meld business and friendship race to the surface in Special Cuts, the latest theatrical offering from the Rashiem Shepherd-led Dredz Productions camp.

Set in a modern-day barber-beauty shop, the play (cleverly written and very strongly acted) also looks at relationship dynamics, betrayal, the disabled community and bad parenting – raising poignant questions about some core factors behind the breakdown in family values in contemporary society.

A smart writer, wise beyond his 29 years, Shepherd (One Blood) manages to imbue the story with just the right amount of seriousness and humour, combined with powerful life lessons, giving ace director David Tulloch great material to work with.

In a nutshell, fans of Ice Cube’s Barber Shop and Queen Latifah’s Beauty Shop will feel right at home in the audience, as we follow these four well-developed characters on their bumpy rollercoaster ride.

Alex (Kadeem Wilson) and Tina (Sabrina Thomas) have a successful barber-beauty business going and a platonic, mutually respectful relationship. Alex’s physically challenged son AJ (a very convincing Oraine Meikle), who is determined to have a music career, regularly visits his pops. Together, the three of them crack jokes and reflect on the past, present and future and what they really want out of life.

Their sense of stability and unity experiences a seismic shift when former schoolmate Lisa (Aisha Davis) enters the picture and is given a job as their new in-house nail technician. But what was expected to be a smooth transition for the business quickly becomes a hot mess. Battle lines are drawn and long-buried secrets re-emerge, causing an emotional thunderstorm.  

It all feels very true-to-life, and this realness works in the show’s favour, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats as the action heads towards a shattering conclusion. All four actors do their director proud, especially Thomas, whose layered portrayal of the shrewd Tina is arguably her best yet. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

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