Friday, 3 January 2020

IRIE PEOPLE: Fiercely funny Jamaica Sweetest wraps up the series on a high

ONLY IN JAMROCK: The show brings the funny and the familiar in true island style.

Jamaica Sweetest (Probemaster Entertainment)
Director: David Tulloch
Cast: Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis, Kathy Grant, Rashiem Shepherd, Danielle Shepherd and David Tulloch 
Venue: Phoenix Theatre, New Kingston

THE holiday season always brings a bounty of wonderful, must-see new theatre productions, and this time around Jamaica Sweetest was ahead of the pack, first out the gate. In a nutshell, it’s a superfunny, cleverly written musical revenue that reminds us that even in paradise, sometimes you have to ‘teck kin teet’ kibba heart bun.’

It also serves as a reintroduction to the megawatt artistic talents of David Tulloch, who wrote, directed and composed the whole thing. What’s more, Jamaica Sweetest represents the third entry in the series (after Jamaica Sweet and Jamaica Sweeter), bringing it to a triumphant close.

Packed with over 15 sketches, backed by an insistent original soundtrack, Jamaica Sweetest essentially explores what makes Jamaica and its populace so unique among global cultures, resulting in a full-of-life examination of themes and ideas spanning the gamut from relationships and lifestyles to family dynamics and even deathbed confessions. The superb cast is led by veteran comic Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis and all-rounder Rashiem Shepherd.

In one of the funniest pieces – a spin on Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden – Tulloch and Kathy Grant play the first man and woman, who bicker incessantly, curious about the many rules that have been handed down by their Creator. Ellis, in what resembles a reptilian cape, soon appears as the snake coercing Eve into taking a bite of the forbidden fruit, eventually leading to their expulsion. It’s quite an eye-opening sketch.

Meantime, Rashiem Shepherd and Danielle Shepherd play a couple of sightseers at Lover’s Leap. One of them will not make it back home. They also appear in a sketch about a Rastaman giving a restaurant waitress a hard time. Turns out he’s just ashamed to order what he really wants. In one of her best moments, Deanne Logan Johnson plays a precocious little girl whose visit to the clinic with her mom culminates in her discovery of what’s inside a woman’s pregnant belly.

There are tourists getting a taste of Jamrock via river rafting, parents pranking young lovers and a tragicomic hospital-room scene that’s as heartfelt as it is hilarious. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

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