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Red Snapper

B2 Stage, Belgrade Theatre Coventry

*****

THE UK premiere of Liz Mytton’s Red Snapper at the Belgrade Coventry is remarkable, sporting a strong all female cast of black actresses, including BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Cathy Tyson, an actress with more than three decades of experience in the industry.
All five actresses delivered equally in this powerful piece, set in Jamaica in 1962, in the time leading up to the island’s independence.

The staging on the simple but striking set worked wonderfully, and the cleverly choreographed transitions throughout allowed the cast to transform not only the set, but also themselves.

Although there are only five performers, the play has 10 characters. With momentary ease and in full view of the audience, the women switched from five wives and girlfriends, into their respective husbands and partners, achieved with just the simple addition of a suit jacket and, sometimes, a hat. Their portrayal of both male and female was a delight and the mannerisms, gestures and demeanour were spot on and totally believable. The audience were never in any doubt as to which role each actress was in.

Gloria is the wife of rich hotelier Lincoln (Karlina Grace-Paseda). She likes the best things in life, including an expensive antique watch, he is a manipulative and devious loan shark with wandering hands.

Pearline (Cathy Tyson) is the humble fisherman’s wife who strives to make a better future for all. She is instrumental in encouraging the others in her quest for freedom, equality, and parity. Tyson also plays the role of Lammie, a bachelor, local bar owner and singer with dreams of moving to Hawaii.

Dawn Hope plays abusive husband Roy and his wife Sissie. We are taken through a full range of emotions as Sissie seeks comfort in her good friend, pure cane rum and confides in bar owner Lammie.

Miss Mytle is the harridan wife who, with her sharp manner and barbed tongue, suppresses and controls all around her. Her husband Manny, the council Mayor, has a passion for the singer Nina Simone but also reveals a darker side in a very dramatic scene which drew gasps from the audience. Both roles are played superbly by Debra Michaels.

Danette is betrothed to the Mayor’s son and local pastor George (Gabrielle Brooks). Their wedding day is frequently postponed and is always six months away. Both are shy, quiet characters, keen to live good and godly lives but they are hiding a secret.

The storyline revolves around the simmering unease and political tensions of the local fisherman as a visit from Fidel Castro is expected. The social history of Jamaica and the personal and political struggles of individuals are played out splendidly. It is an outstanding drama, beautifully written by Liz Mytton, with humour and pathos. Only the few technical hiccoughs prevented us giving it 5 stars but we are sure those will be resolved in future performances.

Highly recommended. To 19-03-16

Rosemary Manjunath /Elizabeth Smith

09-03-16 

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