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‘Young & Wreckless’ – glorification or shame?

Published:Monday | November 4, 2019 | 12:06 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
From left: Lexie (Christina Harris), Joe (Michael Nicholson), Kayan (Crystal Fletcher) and Lamar (Oraine Miekle) in ‘Young and Wreckless’ at the Phoenix Theatre on Friday, November 1.
From left: Lexie (Christina Harris), Joe (Michael Nicholson), Kayan (Crystal Fletcher) and Lamar (Oraine Miekle) in ‘Young and Wreckless’ at the Phoenix Theatre on Friday, November 1.

Theatre must be provocative, relevant and engaging. This mantra was successfully achieved in David Tulloch’s play Young and Wreckless, shown at the Phoenix Theatre, New Kingston, last Friday.

In the story, set in two ­nondescript living rooms, an older man, Max (Junior Williams), cheats on his wife, Sharon (an offstage character), with an underage girl, Kayann (Crystal Fletcher). As the steadily developed plot runs its course, it is evident that the ­playwright’s point-of-view is that there is consequence to such actions, and it is indelible.

Kayann, it turns out, is Max’s daughter. The significance of the revelation that comes at the ending of the play was lost on the director, Orlando Sinclair. He, instead, opted to end his generally mediocre blocking with a last volt of laughter, with Lexie (Christina Harris), Kayann’s peer and best friend, leaping in the arms of Max, immediately before the final blackout. A dramatic ending with a not-so-wise message.

And an unnecessary movement for the light comedy loaded with consistent trade-off of numerous puns, and an equal return of riotous laughter (topped up with ill-advice) from the unscripted sixth character – the audience.

Laughter was also produced by nicely timed and well-­executed cues by both cast and crew. Harris, who was consistently good, not only created the streetwise Lexie into a likeable stock ­character, but was fantastic in the timing of her beats and cues, even the unacceptable leap at the end of the play.

Veteran actor Michael Nicholson was not on his A-game on the night, but still generated empathy for the hapless single parent Joe. In Joe, Tulloch shows the opposite of Max, the infidel and paedophile. This was nicely reinforced by Nicholson’s acting.

Fletcher, Williams, and Oraine Miekle, as Lamar, captain of his high-school football team, completed the cast. Williams and Miekle’s characters also form the other two sides of Kayann’s love triangle.

Fletcher, as the wayward Kayann, gave a commendable ­performance of the two-dimension (joy and anger) teenager. The well-cast Miekle approached his role timidly. This diminished the confidence anticipated from an athlete of his character’s calibre. Miekle, also, often stood in the close position with his back at times to the ­audience. So did Williams, who was by far the most unimpressive in his acting. His stoic approach to a number of important lines ­spoken by Max led to some confusion.

On the technical side, sound cues were appropriately used, but there could have been better use of the lights, other than to indicate the beginning and ending of the scenes. The costumes not only showed signs of consideration, but were helpful in indicating changes in time. The set lacked imagination. Two sofas on either side of the stage did not reinforce the realistic style of the play. On the plus side, Sinclair was successful in using all the acting areas.

Young and Wreckless is rated PG by the producers. It is definitely a must-see.