Rundown Review

| 01/04/2011

One is never really sure what to expect from the 20-year theatrical tradition that is Rundown, let alone when the original writer is no longer involved. Having been to onlytwo past productions, it was with mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness that I purchased my ticket from the CNCF offices behind the Harquail Theatre last week.

For those who don’t know, Rundown is a purely Caymanian traditional comedy review stage production, meaning the script reflects (and pokes fun at) the people and events of the last year. The other unique aspect of Rundown is the music. Calypso, being one of the defining musical genres of the Caribbean, is not only literally story-telling in song but is also defined by the clever use of metaphor and double entendre, not to mention comedy. As both a (famous) musician and the original writer for Rundown, Dave Martins has always written the play’s dialogue as well as its original music. His authorship from its beginnings in the early 90’s through the last decade set the tone and style of the production. However, after Dave’s departure from Cayman in 2009 the production took a hiatus in 2010 and now returns to the stage with Henry Muttoo taking on both roles of writer and director.

It was Saturday night and my anticipation was building as I took my seat in the Harquail Theatre. The lights dimmed precisely at 8:05 – no island time in this place! – and the production’s famous theme song began as cast members bounced up to the stage singing hilarious rhymes about “living in the Cayman Islands today”.

The narrative plays out in a ‘show within a show’ format, where Rita Estevanvich, a veteran Rundown cast member and programmes manager at the Foundation, plays Henry Muttoo – her boss! – and is conducting auditions for Rundown. Insanity quickly sets in as “McKeeva & Kurt” are called in for their audition and the infamous Quincy Brown and Steve McTaggert enter the stage to sing a hilarious rendition of a famous Sinatra song. As the auditions progress, so too does the calamity as Consuelo Ebanks makes her appearance, along with other long time veterans, Morgan Da Costa, Fritz McPherson and Michael McLaughlin. Giselle Webb’s portrayal of a Jamaican ballerina will have you ROTFL’ing (rolling on the floor laughing) as will Michael McLaughlin’s “grandpa” character, who recurs throughout the show. Nearly everything grandpa said had me laughing (literally) out loud!

Perhaps one of my favourite scenes is “Talk Across”, with Quincy Brown and Michael McLaughlin’s side-splitting re-enactment of a certain call-in radio programme, while the situational comedy of the Foster’s segment not only pokes fun at the multi-cultural aspect of “living in the Cayman Islands today” but also provides for some full-on physical comedy (not to mention a site gag that will have you gasping for breath). Also worth noting is the ‘tilet paper’ scene, starring original cast member Alan Ebanks, as it is probably the most intellectual toilet humour I’ve ever seen!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the musical segments, being generally unfamiliar with Calyspo, but the exceptionally talented Quincy Brown carries the show’s musical numbers (with some assistance from Rita Estevanovich) with an ease and finesse that I’d venture to say is unmatched in these islands. Each highly entertaining song was a crazy situation fused with catchy Caribbean music and witty lyrics, which ultimately, I suppose, is the true essence of Rundown.

I won’t lie and say that anyone and everyone will connect with every portion of the show, but while the comedy does rely somewhat on knowing who the characters are and the situations they’ve been in, there are still many instances of universal characterizations and situational comedy that will surely entertain. It may also be helpful to know that much of the play is delivered in a local Caymanian dialect with bits of Jamaican, Spanish and even Indian thrown in for good measure.

Overall, I amextremely impressed with the caliber of the show. It was extremely creative with very clever and funny dialogue, hilarious situations, strong acting and characterizations and entertaining musical numbers that really enhanced the Caribbean aspect of the production. It was perhaps a tad long, taking up a full two and a half hours with intermission, but that’s not to say I felt the show dragging in any particular spot. It was pretty engaging throughout and moved well from scene to scene.

If you’ve never been to Rundown before I strongly suggest you don’t miss this opportunity to do so, if not for the entertainment factor then for the cultural experience of Caribbean theatre and music. If you have been before than I encourage you to come see how the show has evolved with a new writer at the helm. I truly enjoyed this year’s Rundown experience and I hope you will too.

 

CNS note: The show runs Thursday to Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 6pm through till next weekend. Closing night performance is on Sunday 10 April at 6pm. Tickets are available at all Foster’s Supermarkets, Funky Tangs and the CNCF offices (call 949-5477) for $20.

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Category: Viewpoint

Comments (9)

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  1. Walter Clemons says:

    Typical regional amateur effort.  Plenty of energy.  A bit smug and self-referential.  And when in doubt descended into the reductive.  Harmless but missable.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This show is well worth the time and money to watch it. A wonderful job to all the cast members and others who put together a wonderful performance.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cayman has a culture that is not afriad to poke fun at itself. This is a very good thing.

    Therefore, there is a high probablililty that Cayman, despite the multitude of current problems (some serious, some not so serious), will work through the problems and enjoy a bright future.

     

     

    • Da Bomb says:

      Trust me, Quincy was Da Bomb.
      Quincys natural talent in singing and acting help make this the best Rundown ever!
      We were sceptical how it would turn out without Dave Martins, but the jokes, even in songs, about life in Cayman was magical and we truly had a great night.
      Congrats to Henry Muttoo and the whole cast and organizers.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Exellent, well-written and well performed. I would venture to say that this is the best Rundown to date. Quincy Brown was outstanding and I agree also with the earlier post that the contribution of Steve and Mike McTaggart added a lot. Congrats and can hardly wait until next year’s show!

  5. Anonymous says:

    A great review of RunDown….well said.  One of my favourites was the song at the end which was written and performed by Steve McTaggart (and his brother Mike). As a Caymanian this song was very meaningful and made me full of pride; you could feel real emotion coming from Steve as he sang it.  Well done to all…

    •  well written article,I myself truly enjoyed RunDown,not sure why the thumbs down,but again there are those kind of people.

      • Michel Lemay says:

        don’t worry about the thumbs down, to them we are a 3rd. world country and a bunch of illeterate idiots. Because they did not take the time to know us, they don’t get the jokes or talents. We know it’s great and it’s make’s us laugh and that is good. God Bless

        • Kung Fu Iguana says:

          There are no anti-Caymanian posts at all on this thread.  The prejudice seems to be your own xenophobia.

          If I were you I would not make comments about illiteracy given that you made at least seven significant spelling or grammatical errors in three short substantive sentences.  Rather than fuel the flames of prejudice, I suggest you spend some time improving your English skills.  It "make’s" a big impression.