2 Can Play (Review)

| 27/10/2011

They don’t call it rainy season for nothin’!  But hey, just cause it’s raining outside doesn’t mean you should miss out on what’s going on out there!  We are waterproof after all….  Last Saturday night was as rainy as they come but my love and I ventured out into the H2O to check out the production of “2 Can Play” written by Jamaican playwright Trevor Rhone, directed by Henry Muttoo and presented by the CNCF (Cayman National Cultural Foundation). 

I’m no stranger to the CNCF so I wasn’t surprised to see Michael McLaughlin and Marcia Muttoo on stage but I certainly was surprised to hear strong Jamaican accents coming forth from their lips!  McLaughlin and Muttoo effortlessly transported us to a war torn section of 1970’s Kingston to tell the story of Jim and Gloria, virtual prisoners in their own modestly middleclass home.  Their children are illegal immigrants in America and as gunshots rain each night, Jim decides they too must forge a path to the American dream.  As their plan develops and ultimately unfolds we see the questions posed by the playwright concerning marriage, love, duty, sacrifice, fantasy, reality, risk and self-indulgence.  The complexity of their lives, their relationship and the decisions they’ve made and will make, weave into a time-lapse portrait of a marriage in collapse.  I found the play deceptive in its humour, making me laugh at a man’s struggle to sleep during raging gunshot fire – a scary situation to be sure.  While the mixing of gender roles, with a strong-willed woman and a strong-mouthed man communicating for the first time now in the empty nest stage of their lives, an undoubtedly universal and complex reality. 

McLaughlin and Muttoo both do a beautifully convincing job of making us think they are Jamaican – possibly a little more on the posh side than ghetto – but still there’s no doubt McLaughlin’s Jamaican roots provide him with an upper hand.  Both actors do well also in making those of us who know them well surrender to their embodiments of Jim and Gloria as they play out their shifting narrative roles of protector and protected, selfish and selfless, talker and walker. As the drama unfolded I was constantly wondering about this couple and what, if anything, their marriage was worth and to my surprise the play itself demanded the question also in its surprising and dramatic conclusion.  Even the set design is a subtle reminder of the forces at work both on stage and within the story.  The missing walls lined with barred doorways do their job brilliantly of suggesting a larger house but one that is still in effect, a prison.

I won’t lie.  This is a Jamaican play.  The dialect and accent may be difficult to decipher by non-Caribbean people or untrained ears.  That said, I think anyone interested in the arts should challenge themselves to exploring the rich and diverse history of Caribbean theatre, an art form that was (and arguably still is) one of the strongest forms of socio-political expression of an oppressed people.  We are lucky to have it on offer here in Cayman as the CNCF is pretty much the only purveyor of both Caymanian and Caribbean arts.  Mr. Henry Mutto himself has been writing, performing, set designing and directing Caribbean theatre for most of his adult life, if not longer, and is, in my opinion, an untapped resource in terms of the depth of knowledge and experience he is willing to share with an eager audience. 

What was once likely presented as a commentary on social class, relationships and gender equality is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.  And isn’t that what art and literature are for? Presenting the timeless struggles of ageless characters to modern audiences?  Set in an urban Caribbean context, these struggles become even more relevant to our daily lives even here in Cayman.

And if all that is too heavy for you, what else have you got to do on a rainy night but check out the final run of “2 Can Play” this weekend at the Harquail?         

Thurs – Sat  8pm, Sun 6pm.  Tickets available at all Foster’s, Funky Tangs and Harquail Theatre or call 949-5477. 

PS. Get on the CNCF mailing list and keep abreast of their many unique and engaging Caribbean productions.  Or better yet, get on their volunteer list. Gimistory is coming up at the end of November and it’s one of the most magical and entertaining family events of the year!

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  1. Tami says:

    My husband and I went to see 2 Can Play on opening night and we loved it!  We are not from the Caribbean, but were able to follow the accents and most of the humour just fine (perhaps because we've been here for 6.5 years?).  In any event, this is a great story with excellent acting and I recommend that people brave the rain and try to get out to see it.

  2. NRooney says:

    Nice analysis Judy Singh, but a little more emphasis on the pure entertainment to be had here would have been nice. We do not get to see much fine acting in Cayman but here is the very definition of it! The tension, the timing and the rollercoaster of the modern realtionship is all here to see in rather voyeuristic fashion – our group that same evening was fully on-board. Even in the mostly empty (lamentably) Harquail Theatre we were drawn in to the emotional struggle of these two fascinating characters – it is probably the best thing you will see this year – support these fine actors and Henry's commendable production.