Tue | Jan 16, 2018

Short format packs power

Published:Friday | May 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Karen Harriott as a feisty prostitute.
Bertina Macaulay (left), Barbara McCalla (centre) and Karen Harriott play duppies in Woman Tongue.
Bertina Macaulay
A snooty Hilary Nicholson tells her story in Woman Tongue.
A daughter, Karen Harriott (left), has a personal question for her mother, played by Carol Lawes.
A pensive Barbara McCalla tells her story in Woman Tongue, which ended its limited run at The Courtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston, on Sunday.
Fancy Cat (left) and Ity at the BOJ Auditorium, Kingston, during last Friday's lunch hour concert..
The cast of Woman Tongue is Bertina Macaulay (left), Barbara McCalla (second left), Hilary Nicholson (third right), Karen Harriott (second rigt) and Carol Lawes.

The sexual encounters - on a small table - are mimed, an example of the many creative theatrical devices used by the director. Another in the piece is the flashback; Bertina Macaulay is the strap-wielding mother and Hilary Nicholson the snooty upper St Andrew employer. Yet another device, in the third play, shows Macaulay's character speaking to her husband, who is represented by a square of white cloth draped over the back of a chair.

The descriptions I have given should indicate the minimalist set used. But we do not miss a naturalistic one, for the clever stories and fine acting become our focus.

Saved for the last is the most imaginative skit, which employs the full cast. Carol Lawes is the main character, Agnes, a recently deceased old woman. From some place beyond the grave, the characters watch and comment on Agnes' funeral, the others trying to console Agnes as she sees her husband already taking an interest in another woman

Woman Tongue ends with a gospel song. The show at BOJ began with song. A couple of comic numbers came in a short opening act featuring comedian RoZah Rose and another came from Ity and Fancy Cat when they began the main segment.

For about 90 minutes, the two related amusing anecdotes, teased audience members with comments, tossed off one-liners and puns and acted out various situations in skits and monologues.

A new situation was introduced every few minutes. Some were intrinsically humorous, others had as much potential for serious treatment as any in Woman Tongue. Examples of the former were a spelling test given to a little boy from the audience who was asked to spell BOJ, BMW and TVJ. There were also reminiscences about sweets like asham, paradise plum and Bustamante jawbone.

Examples of the latter were poverty, life in the inner city and gun violence. Of course, the duo concentrated on the comic elements, but you did catch yourself thinking seriously now and again.