Tuesdays @ the theatre | Entertainment value high in 'Young & Wreckless' - Final twist too severe to bring off humorous end
In a scene from Young & Wreckless, now playing at the Phoenix Theatre in New Kingston, Teeta (Daniela Gordon) stretches a long arm upwards to illustrate the level as she tells Tiana (the name Crystal Fletcher gives her much older lover Max, played by Junior Williams) that the movie they had just seen with Lemar (played by Ryan Graham) was high. She may have well been talking about Young & Wreckless, which has a high comedic value which the approximately half capacity audience thoroughly enjoyed.
And they did with good reason, as a familiar mix of financial and romance problems, young-gal and big-man materialism business, unrequited attraction, young people with dreams that are difficult to realise, and testy - yet true - friendship narrows into a $100,000 Peruvian hair payment. All goes rib-ticklingly well up to the last scene, but then, there is a final twist to the tale of such enormity that, although attempted in the few remaining minutes, makes the final burst of humour for a comedic ending incongruous. In addition, a very healthy dose of suspension of reality is required to accept that the revelation of the twist from Joe could take place in front of the entire cast - if he could bring himself to say it to another person.
It is not a totally unfamiliar twist, as The Gleaner has seen it in a movie before. In that case, the man who found himself in that wretched situation heaved and retched his guts out.
First-time director Orlando Sinclair effectively stages David Tulloch's script on a minimalist set which is essentially a split of two living rooms, Max's to the audience's left and Joe's (played by Ricky Rowe). Never the twain meet, a phone call from Tiana (with Teeta listening in closely) to Max bringing them as near as they ever get. The actors do well within the roles they have been assigned - Young & Wreckless is not the kind of play which calls for great character development, although there are indications of Teeta's intention to mature from her over-the-top bleaching-outfit-clad stereotype.
Rowe, the irritable, protective father still weak for the wife with which he has parted company - and a good shot of liquor - carries the bulk of the action well, Williams carries himself with the natural cunning of a committed 'gallis', though he, too, is weak to the female flesh. Fletcher handles the swings required for a youngster's transitions from char to spite and Graham as an intent yet socially unrefined suitor is competent. However, his impassioned commitment to Tiana after the final twist requires some work for emotional believability.