Faithy Lynch’s One woman show
The smalleR of the two performance spaces at Phoenix Theatre on Haining road, The Blue Room, is the perfect choice for a production that demands the audience to get intimate. When Faithy Lynch staged her one-woman show in the miniature playhouse, it was a performance which demonstrated her many talents, and also her acute observations of Jamaica’s dissonance with mental health issues.
Though it did not attract a full house, it is difficult to categorise theatre artist Faithy Lynch’s debut commercial production, Common Sense, as a failure – because long after the final applause dissipated and the lights came on, the small audience remained seated to continue the conversation.
“I saw Faithy at her final-year show at Edna Manley and I fell in love with the presentation,” the show’s producer, Shak-quera South, told The Gleaner. She added, “What you saw here tonight,has been expanded and changed a little bit, but the initial phase that the show was at, it was already brilliant. So I approached her and asked if she would be willing to have me produce the show,” producer South told The Gleaner.
Lynch wrote Common Sense, portrays all eight of the characters that appear on stage, and she also directed the production – which follows a troubled young girl named Stacey, who suffers because of her community’s misdiagnoses.
Without costume changes or leaving the stage, Lynch managed to deliver the determined gait and tone of Stacey’s irate mother, immediately against the hiccupping childishness of Stacey herself. The formidable actress made plain the differences between Stacey’s ‘would-be’ lover Robert, and her everlasting companion Ras Sigis, the broom salesman. She even took on the role of heckling neighbours – hopping from one leg to the next, from man to woman to child.
Along with her inspired producer and their stage manager and assistant director Syprian Javelle, the small production team succeeded with their original intent – to open eyes and minds to the issue of mental health. At the end of each production, Lynch and company turned their spectators into participants, with the invitation to mental health advocates to speak about their own personal or adjacent experiences.
When the lights came up, the audience was engaged by Sasha Williams of Think Mental Health Ja, whose’s tear-filled testimony opened the room to an impromptu, unofficial group-therapy session. “I remember one time someone came to lock off things because we deh in here so long ah talk. Every show,” Lynch said.
Regardless of how engaging the one-woman-show and its post-session may be, South and Lynch must now contend with how to keep the ball rolling.
“This was our first commercial staging of it, and unfortunately, the turnout wasn’t great. We have to think about how feasible it is to move it. We have to pay for the space, pay the actor, the stage manager, lighting and sound,” said South.