Playing the villain in a theatrical piece is never easy, as it often requires the portrayal of a 'mean' character.
It requires the actor being very good at being bad. The trio of Courtney Wilson, Sharee McDonald-Russell, and Natalee Cole hits the spot in Patrick Brown's classic Jamaican fairy tale Glass Slippaz, which opened at the Centerstage Theatre on Boxing Day last year, and which now plays Tuesdays to Fridays at 8 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Glass Slippaz is Patrick Brown's Jamaicanised version of the classic Cinderella story, but crafted in such a way that there are very few similarities.
The main reference points are there - cruel stepparent, the ugly sisters, the good fairy, the underdog, but there endeth the parallels.
Brown drags us laughing down a completely different road, turning things on their head and taking a few liberties along the way.
For instance, he goes for a fairy godfather - not godmother, and there is a cruel stepfather - not stepmother.
Similar to original story
As with the original story though, Brown's version also embodies an element of unjust oppression ending in triumphant reward for the underdog, personified as Cindyrelisha.
Wilson's Brutus Cruff is mean, very mean. He bites generously into the opportunity and has the audience angrily shouting at him at times. Then there are the deliciously naughty ugly sisters, colourfully decked out in the most ridiculous ghetto-fabulous outfits. Drizella Cruff (Sharee McDonald-Russell) and Punella Cruff (Natalee Cole) complement each other in their ignorant silliness and unforgivable cruelty to their stepsister Cindyrelisha (Alaine or Sakina Deer). When their comeuppance happens, the audience loves every moment of Cindy's triumph.
As the story unfolds Cindyrelisha, following the death of her mother, takes over the late woman's domestic chores, haunted by a nasty stepfather, who lets her know in no uncertain manner that "yuh nuh need education fe boil hog feedin, clean house and wash clothes. Don't try to elevate yuhself above your appointed station in life. God will vex wid yuh".
This kind of treatment would break many a soul. But Cindyrelisha is able to dig deep into her own self-belief, with some divine intervention, and triumphs in the end.
The cast is rounded out by veteran comic actor Glen 'Titus' Campbell (as the yard boy 'Simple') and Donald 'Iceman' Anderson (who plays two roles - Tipsy, the fairy godfather, and Prince Sheggy, the international reggae superstar).
Glass Slippaz will continue its regular run at Centerstage for a few months, whilst popping into a few rural townships (May Pen, Mandeville, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, etc) on select weekends.