'Two Can Play' is as brilliant as ever
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
One of the prevailing themes in Errol Hill's Moon on a Rainbow Shawl is the weak Caribbean man. The theme is also present in the opening scenes of Trevor Rhone's classic Two Can Play, where a terrified husband is being calmed by his brave wife.
But as the brilliantly written and justly executed play progresses, another dimension of the Caribbean man is revealed. He is also the general of his house, making all the decisions for his wife and children. He also takes time out to have an affair on the side, and he does not clean up after himself.
Currently running at the Pantry Playhouse, Two Can Play opens with the sounds of gunshots of varied intensity.
During the mélée that comes with the loud bursts, a cowering Jim (Paul Skeen) seeks comfort from his wife Gloria (Rosie Murray).
It is 1970, somewhere in the Rollington Town area in Jamaica, where Rhone paints a montage of Jamaica at the height of its worst political upheaval, where heavily armed, warring factions of the two major political parties trade gunshots.
The political landscape is just one of the challenges faced by Jim and Gloria.
With food shortages and unemployment rising, Jim sends his children, Susie, Paul and Andrew, on a one-entry visa to the United States of America. It is one of his proudest decisions and the cause for Gloria's depression.
As the well-written plot continues to develop, both Gloria and Jim decide to activate one of two options to reunite the family in the United States. The decision is made more easy for Jim after 'Pops', his father, dies, leaving him with no ties to the island.
Plan in place, Jim stays behind and Gloria goes to Florida for three weeks. She discovers that there are two Americas. But more important, her visit serves as the catalyst for change.
As the plot unfolds, the intensity and humour of the situations is maintained throughout.
Much of the plot unfolds off-stage and is presented to the audience through reports. The director, Carolyn Allen, and her cast of two achieved the telling of the unseen elements of the story in seamless fashion; it was brilliant.
With Michael Lorde's very functional set of a dining area and a bedroom at her disposal, the director moved the actions from space to space in a believable way.
Murray and Skeen were also both brilliant in the execution of their roles.
Both spoke clearly and paced their lines well, infusing the script with the required emotions and gestures at the right time.
Skeen took the complexity of his character into custody and created a likeable Jim, even when he was being arrogant.
Murray also understood, and showed Gloria's growth from the caring 'yes-wife' to the assertive woman.
With the aid of costumes she was able to transform Gloria from the doting motherly woman to one who was more assertive - a woman with direction.
Two Can Play is worth seeing. However, it must be noted that the producers have rated the production PG -15.