Tanya Batson-Savage, Freelance Writer
Deon Silvera (left), Christopher Daley (second left), Terri Salmon (second right), Everaldo Creary (right) and Christopher McFarlane mount a roadblock, 'Jamaica 2 RAHTID' style. - CONTRIBUTED
ANOTHER MUSICAL revue, Jamaica 2 Rahtid, written by Aston Cooke and directed by Michael Nicholson, has taken over the stage at the Barn Theatre.
The production is smartly written, well-directed and features a talented cast effectively creating a hilarious look at Jamaica today.
Grub Cooper's music and Orville Hall's choreography keep the production looking and sounding fresh.
The musical revue is a consistently popular genre of Jamaican theatre. Its popularity reflects more than a love of laughter; it points out that Jamaicans love to look at themselves in the hopes of 'popping' a big laugh at the ridiculousness of existence. That laughter should never be taken lightly, as it tends to 'kibba heart burn'.
Well done, the musical revue can hold up a mirror to our society that reflects with exaggeration our flaws as we give a smile and think 'only in Jamaica to rahtid' and get on with the business of surviving the shenanigans of our politicians and the other things that refuse to make life easy.
The play itself echoes that sense, with several of the sketches echoing its name effectively calling to the serious ridiculousness of the situation.
The production also echoes that sense of almost perverse patriotism that fills our local revues. As they satirise our society, they simultaneously celebrate it. The patriotic element is brought out beautifully in the production's set.
The set is simple, though well done, and emphasises a sense of patriotism in the use of colour.
The simple panel, which is largely white, has either 'Rahtid' or '2 Rahtid' written on the backdrop in variations of red, green, black and gold.
At the top is a segment of the Jamaican flag. Five painted blocks, also in red, black, gold and green, are on the stage.
Throughout the performance there was no profusion of props, but every piece that was used was well selected and fit perfectly with the sketch.
The production features Chris Daley, Deon Silvera, Chris McFarlane, Terri Salmon and Everaldo Creary and a writer/director team could hardly have found a better cast with which to produce the revue.
Daley is simply fantastic! Many comic actors have mastered the art of widening the eyes for comic effect. He, on the other hand, has discovered the joy of the half closed eyes. His grasp of nuance allows him to create truly hilarious characters that perfectly enhance Cooke's wit.
The magic of that combination comes most beautifully in the sketch 'Operation King Fish'. With all the jokes that have surfaced since that badly conceptualised name, it seems that the King Fish jokes had already earned their last laugh. Yet, with their powers combined, Nicholson, Cooke and Daley were able to create the queen of all King Fish jokes. The sketch should be given an advisory for its gut-busting potential.
ACROSS CLASS DIVIDE
Silvera and Salmon often team up for the hilarious duo of Ray-Ray and Tay-Tay, as in 'Dollar Store' and 'Trevor's Last Bashment'. But even when they step out of these characters, as in 'Tea Time', they deliver well, as both have the requisite range to go across the class divide.
McFarlane largely plays the straight man of the jokes and he does this well, providing a great foil for both Daley and Creary.
Creary, the youngest of the group, still has some fine-tuning to do in his performance, but he makes a very good representation of himself, doing a particularly good job in 'Man a Gallis', which pokes fun at the metrosexual male, and 'Cricket War'.
Indeed, sketches such as 'Cricket War', 'Reggae Cabinet' and 'The Case of the Missing File' point to the serious intent of the sketches despite all the hilarity they produce.
Cooke has taken sharp, insightful jabs at the society and Nicholas directs the production so that neither the serious intent nor the humour suffer. Jamaica 2 Rahtid is funny, but hilariously so.
It is, in three words, one