Devon Dick | Dawkins' Maas Mat Sequel
Basil Dawkins wrote a Maas Mat sequel. Normally, we associate sequels with movies such as Rocky 1 and II or Shrek 1 and II, Lethal Weapon 1 and II, but not a play. Dawkins was breaking different ground. No wonder the 2018 Mediamix Doctor Bird recognised Dawkins as one of the nine icons of cultural industries.
Since 1980, the iconic Dawkins offers serious critic of society and points to possible solutions. He is known for plays such as Champagne and Sky Juice, Toy Boy, Bangarang, My God don’t wear Pajamas and the classic Feminine Justice.
In the play, Maas Mat Comes to Town, Dawkins, the playwright, explores the urbanisation of society and contrasts it with rural life which is usually promoted as superior. Maas Mat calls the city infrastructure a concrete jungle with no open space for flowers and where ‘all di grass a concrete’. He also bemoans that the modern bathroom which is part of the house instead of detached as was common in the 1960s.
But the central issue of the city life was the callousness of a daughter, Deslin (Maylynne Lowe), to her mentally ill mother, Dotsy (Ruth Ho Shing). However, it was later revealed that Deslin had a troubled early life and marriage. The one to bring sanity to a dysfunctional family was Maas Mat (Earle Brown), the straight talking, sweet singing earthy spiritual man and rum drinker. The play explores issues of love, marriage, forgiveness, repentance, racial prejudice, folk religion, source of wealth, drug addiction in a realistic and an entertaining way.
Dawkins handled the death of a main character quite well, and perhaps the resurrected Maas Mat could have said more. Also intriguing was another main character, Deslin’s husband, Luke. Luke was reminiscent of the TV series, Charlie’s Angels, in which the boss of Charlie’s Angels is hardly seen but voice ever present.
The second half of the show was a riot. It is a must see. Dawkins as a playwright challenges the memory of his character and they all held their lines. Every playwright is a preacher encouraging his or her value system. Dawkins is no different. He exposes so often; the play is consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition. He exposes the hypocrisy of high society and polite people and encourages the values found in rural life of 'one for all and all for one'. He is for a gentler, kinder society especially to the elderly and the mentally ill.
During the intermission it dawned on me that those persons who are involved in theatre do so as a labour of love. The support for Maas Mat Comes to Town was good on the opening night with many well-known theatre personalities such as Deon Silvera, Nadean Rawlins, Dorothy Cunningham and former director, Douglas Prout (visiting from Canada), being present. Ruth Ho Shing has been involved in theatre for 43 years and Basil Dawkins started writing plays 39 years ago with his first being Flatmate.
Theatre productions need the support of patrons. They need the financial backing of corporate Jamaica. There are not many venues and those that exist are unable to accommodate large numbers of patrons. Furthermore, the producers have made it so affordable.
Jamaica needs to support the various plays such as Maas Mat Comes to Town which is staged with a wonderful set depicting a dwelling with its impressive bay window; is well written; is competently directed and demonstrates strong and believable acting.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.