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‘Comedy of commesse’

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Billed for laughter through speedy utterances of lines Man Eater, the stage play performed at the Naparima Bowl last Saturday night did eat into the sensibilities of the large audience in attendance. It excelled in keeping the patrons rooted to an afternoon of cantankerous eave-droppings and local “chupidness” which the “Trini” is noted for receiving with open joy and comical glee. For, laughter is the best medicine to a nation now mired in economical doom and tyrannical pains of crimes each day with significant reality, not mentioning the numerous road accidents and the domestic violence escalating rampant in our society. Richard Ragoobarsingh’s oriental Chino features topped by a lopsided large white “baker-cook hat” recited his lines with authority. His comical gestures were encouraged, matched by Aaron Schneider’s. Both actors as the male pivotal anchorage force to the play. 
The women were introduced one at a time to the stewpot of commesse which fried out, convincingly increasing the confusion in a constant repertoire of “he say-dem say” dialectal colloquialism. And news, good bad or indifferent provided good food for thought, for discussion on which the conflicts were brought out with precision, with quick timing. Schneider could at times be more audible, slower in his lines so that he could be heard more distinctly. But the patrons were thrilled all the same. Corinne Browne’s maternal stage presence (she also confessed to shooting,) contrasted so much with Leslie Lavine. And sexy long-legged beauty Ria Ali’s blossomed into an unexpected killer with a shotgun (as a man killer) to add intrigue and surprise as the play developed. She could have portrayed a more antagonistic severe composure in her development of her behavioural attitude towards the end of the play, from being a shy quiet visitor to a female “village ram” with a record of shooting to kill. A certain brand of ferocity would have been acceptable as contributing to reveal the true nature of her character. The only glaring mishap could be the sensational design, of the stage set. A magnanimously loud-coloured display of a “home furnishing” layout in the panels in seven different colours. 
With two potted plants, seven paintings of various sizes and contents, a cabinet and a cricket bat, that had no relevance to the drama. A vertical narrow all white painted door, the whole stage design was colourful, spectacular but distractive. And the two blue plastic bar stools of contemporary design, were out of context, like the high fashion multipaned windows only adding a feeling of hauteur, in discordance to a village bar with its unseen back room-store room and kitchen with only sada roti (with or without pepper) and bread and cheese with coffee as the main dishes. But this play was well-directed. The sound system contributed to its success. And the whole stage was well used for the entire production. All high marks for the absence of any obscene dialogue. Actors were given a careful balance of freedom and guidance for confidence in their individual roles. Pacing in rehearsals coordinated back stage, made this production effectively amusing and entertaining without signs of dragging. And the natural relationship between audience and actors were enhanced on a stage that is probably ten feet wider than that of Queen’s Hall. 


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