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For the Reckord | Twists and turns abound in ‘Money Moves’

Published:Friday | July 26, 2019 | 12:00 AMMichael Reckord/Gleaner Writer
Mama (Monique Ellis, left) pleads with her daughter, Tracy (Oshin White), to forget her scruples.
Mr Greenwood (Maxwell Grant) tries to get a reluctant Tracy (Oshin White) to accept his money.

The first couple of scenes of the roots play Money Moves (written and directed by Garfield Reid), now on at 6 Cargill Avenue, very efficiently reveal what the rest of the play will be like. The mood will be amorous and the tone comical and there will be lots of twists and turns in the story.

Scene One opens in a dimly lit living room. A couple run in from a door to your left (the door to the street) and, with much heavy breathing, indicating passion, begin to pull off each other’s clothes. You’ve seen that scene countless times at the movies, and it usually ends with the couple falling on to a bed.

Here, though, the woman pulls the man offstage through a door to the right, which we assume leads to a bedroom. Moments pass, and the woman runs back out, picks up the man’s pants, and searches the pockets. She flings down the pants in disgust and utters the play’s first lines: “What a bruk-pocket man, sah!”

A quick blackout gives way to morning light on the stage. In comes the ageing, white-haired Miss Mama (Monique Ellis) grumbling to herself. Attitude (Yanique Cunningham), the young woman from the earlier scene, enters from the bedroom, and Mama demands the rent money.

After a fuss, Attitude reluctantly hands over some money. Minutes later, though, the “bruk-pocket man”, Popchow (Reid), orders Mama, at gunpoint, to return his money. She does.

Important subjects

In a mere 12 minutes, the following have been established: Money is an important subject in the play; Attitude, Mama’s tenant, and Popchow, a gunman and her visiting boyfriend, are taking advantage of Miss Mama; and the sex scenes take place offstage.

This last item is important, for there were children in the audience on Saturday night when I saw the play. While Money Moves is by no means a family show, the sex is suggested rather than shown, and as profanity is also avoided, children shouldn’t be corrupted by anything they see or hear.

As the story unfolds, we meet two other characters. One is Mr Greenwood, a middle-aged man who apparently has as much influence on the movers and shakers of society as he has money. He makes phone calls and orders a number of big names to do his bidding, and he’s continually taking out a fat wallet and offering money to the female characters.

Tracy (Oshin White), the final person we meet, is Mama’s studious daughter, and she refuses to take Greenwood’s money despite her mother’s urging. Attitude, however, does take Greenwood’s cash because, we discover, he is her other boyfriend.

Not surprisingly, having two visiting lovers causes much stress in Attitude’s life – and brings about much comic suspense for the audience. Time and again, either Greenwood or Popchow comes in from the street door, intending to cross the living room to the bedroom while the rival lover is inside. We know that if the men meet, there will be war, and we are entertained by the attempts of other characters to stop the newcomer from reaching the bedroom door.

While keeping Attitude’s two boyfriends from finding about each other is a major plot line, asymmetrically, a subplot focuses on the relationships Tracy fails to have with the two men. Mama wants Tracy to establish a ‘sugar daddy’ relationship with Mr Greenwood, for she has university fees to pay.

While Tracy is not interested in Greenwood, she is interested in Popchow, who initially resists her advances. He indicates that he wants to remain faithful to Attitude, though ironically, we know that she is unfaithful to him. Mama, too, is against any relationship between Tracy and Popchow.

These storylines should indicate that there is quite a bit of suspense in this cleverly written play. Another of its enjoyable aspects is the acting, which is energetic and quite a bit larger than life, as suits a farce.

Produced by B. Lloyd Allen, the play will end its two-weekend run in Kingston this weekend and then go on a tour of the island. The roles of Tracy and Attitude are double-cast and in future shows may be played by actresses other than the ones I saw.