Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau:The insightful and entertaining production of Trevor Rhone's infamous classic Old Story Time in Montego Bay on Sunday brilliantly traversed Jamaica's cultural evolution.
Hosted at Half Moon Conference Centre in Rose Hall, Montego Bay, executive producer Sydney Reid and his team of experienced actors and production crew executed a flawless theatrical piece, necessary elements of productions if theatre in western Jamaica is to be revived.
With Winston 'Bello' Bell playing the role of storyteller 'Pa Ben', Dorothy Cunningham as the matriarch single mother 'Miss Aggy', Keniesha Bowes as 'Pearl', Patria-Kaye Aarons as 'Lois', Michael Forrest as the sly businessman 'George', and Devon Yetman playing the hard-working 'Len', the play did not miss a beat in teaching harsh lessons about love, forgiveness and racial prejudices.
Held in two separate performances for students and the general public, Reid explained that Old Story Time tells Jamaica's history in a unique way as it takes its audience through a period that is not popular to discuss in public. That period is still an important reminder of how much the country has evolved.
"The book itself deals with a lot of social issues and colloquial stereotypes that we faced as a people prior to and after Independence," said Reid.
"It also showcases a strong sense of community and family that is not often seen in today's society. Trevor Rhone's book was a masterpiece that is still studied in schools, and it is for that reason I'm honoured to have been able to bring this to the public through theatre," Reid added.
Decline in quality productions
Montego Bay has suffered from a decline in the number and quality of performing arts productions in recent years, despite the efforts of theatre practitioners to maintain the relevance of the Fairfield Theatre.
Those efforts have not been sufficient to generate widespread demand for this type of entertainment, and so the crowd on Sunday was not particularly large.
The lack of numbers did not affect the cast's ability to deliver a stunning performance that left those in attendance enthralled and moved by its smooth execution.
"As we celebrate Jamaica 50, this is an excellent production that takes you through the years in Jamaican history. It was not only fun, but really entertaining, a good event for family, friends or persons who love the performing arts," said Reid.