Karl Williams at this year's Actor Boy Awards. He is currently in the JamBix Production 'Vibes'. - WINSTON SILL/FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER
ON THE poster of the new Jambiz production Vibes, the play has been tagged by the company as "outrageously funny". And it is.
But, more importantly, Vibes offers a lot more than laughter presenting equal parts drama and comedy.
Vibes is a story as old as time, or at least the plantation system. It is what happens when a master, a mistress and a voluptuous helper combine.
Written by Patrick Brown and directed by Trevor Nairne, Vibes is a tale of class, love, lust, and faithfulness, with the issues of class and lust/love dominating.
In this case, it is a ménage a catre, as the gardener also joins in the fray of this family drama. So, it is that kind of manhood and womanhood across the classes that are in contention.
Valerie is of the upper class. She is the epitome of the modern woman who puts career first. She is a successful lawyer who therefore feels she does not need to know how to cook, until she finds her relationship threatened by Dimples' domestic skills.
Valerie is an anal retentive, pretentious snob, while Dimples is vibrant, saucy and has all of four dimples to match her many curves. With the two under the same roof, along with Steve, it does not take a calculator to compute the sum of the body parts.
Women like Dimples are probably the reason helpers' uniforms were invented, but she's never heard of them and so she constantly parades around the house as though ready for the nearest dancehall. If judged by her cover, or lack thereof, she would be the kind of woman easily dismissed and looked down on.
This is what the play attempts to highlight but, interestingly, it is also where it has its biggest glitch.
Dimples more than earns the sympathies of the audience, but the play's attempt to highlight that her take on womanhood is just as valid as Valerie's is not as successful as other segments of the play. This is in part because Dimples is forced to ask this question out loud, rather than its being so integral that it never has to be asked.
The cast of Vibes is another clear indication that a new generation of actors is poised to take over. The production features Camille Davis (Dimples), Karl Williams (Steve Early), Maylynne Walton (Valerie Early), and Courtney Wilson (Chris).
The most established names in the production are Williams and Walton and both are only inching their way toward household status. So Jambiz is taking quite a risk with the cast, but it was one worth taking and it has paid off beautifully.
Brown's smart writing is beautifully enhanced by the good performances and thoughtful direction, while tasteful set design, construction and decoration create an image of affluence without decadence.
Walton delivers what could possibly be her best performance to date. Previously, her performances have tended toward the melodramatic, but with Vibes she finally hits on nuance.
AVOIDS CLICHÉ CHARACTERS
It's commendable that Steve is not merely cast aside as the usual predatory husband eager to prey on all the nice country girls or ghetto girls.
Indeed, Brown skillfully avoids being too cliché with these characters, even though the story could have easily fallen prey to the formulaic. Williams plays Steve admirably, delivering the engaging performance that is expected of him.
In this production, Wilson proves a face to watch out for in the future. His performance began on slightly shaky ground as he seemed to be "hamming" a little too much and the timing was off.
Yet he bloomed beautifully as the performance continued and easily held his own, creating most of the comic element of the production.
- T. B.