A review of Alwin Bully's play: Ruler in Hiroona
Two weekends ago we were treated to another of Alwin Bully's brand of plays; this time the 1976 classic " The Ruler in Hiroona" adapted for stage as "The Ruler" from 1972 publication of the late Vincentian author George Thomas. Yes, it was the People's Action Theatre who first staged the twelve-night run some 38 years ago when there was no television and social media distractions or attractions.
The very simple set consisted of a balcony, and a step which led to base where most of the story was unveiled. Interestingly some of the original cast members and experienced actors and actresses were back. Severin McKenzie i.e. as Joe Pittance; Lennox Honychurch- John Forbes; Ingrid Angol-Sonia Mole, one of this year's Golden Drum awardee Noreen Joseph as Naomi Sampson; Gairy Didier-George Reid and the beloved Crab-Soup played by Michael Bruney were among those entrusted with memorable roles.
Well, Aversely Colaire was given the major role, the protagonist and story teller who was fired from all jobs he previously held only to be convinced by Joe Pittance that he could represent people using a variety of strategies to win the heart of would-be supporters such as shedding tears at funerals.
The "Hiroona Union" became fertile ground for such exploits as Joe Pittance (Severin McKenzie) proved to be the correct springboard to drive "The Ruler " to the top and win support of the Waterfront Party; his platform to absolute power via public meetings island wide, representing worker causes and getting compensations for the working class. His wife was autocratically given the position of party secretary and a ministerial position while Pittance, who was integral to his succession, was marginalised on the premise that he was not "literate."
As Jerry Mole weaved his way to the top he became more devious, intoxicated with power. This led to acts of Chief Minister sponsored arson, bribery and treason to maintain his position. Not even pleas or threats of separation from wife Sonia Mole (Ingrid Angol) - nor the death of his mother could swerve him off his course of looming self-destruction; he was the government, he became the law.
In this stupor of 'Hiroona', the island's colonial administrators seem to be no match for Mole's ambitions of total domination and acquisition of wealth. So much was the desire, acting police commissioner Robbins (Webster Marie) though reluctant to do his Ruler's bidding at first, fell prey to being accessory to arson for promises of the position of Commissioner of Police. His hysteria "successfully burnt" nearly gave the plan away, much to the patrons' amusement.
Of course, it was the alcoholic, Crab Soup who was well positioned for the crime and to execute revenge by burning the major factory where he lost his job. Officer Robin was 'just responsible' for making the fuel readily available. Obviously, Minister Mole did not want white colonials to come in to investigate so this generated exchanges between John Forbes (Lennox Honychurch) and Hart Forbes (Jay Grimner), who represented the colonisers on island.
Dave Porter (Curtis Clarendon), one of the individuals who had the back of the 'Ruler', played his role with clarity while Joe Pittance who was capable of putting up and bringing down leaders himself assisted in carrying through public meetings, party meetings and even when he swayed allegiance to university graduate Vincent Cunningham (Colmore Daniel) who was eventually be victorious at the polls notwithstanding the incumbent plans to rig the election.
Bryan (Billy Lawrence) added a relaxed conversational and welcoming Bajan tone and perspective on stage while in Michael Bruney's short stint on stage was the embodiment of a drunken Crab Soup and flashes of his People's Action Theatre exploits. Similar sentiments can be expressed about actor Gairy Didier (George Reid), the publisher who agreed to a 50-thousand-dollar bet with 'The Ruler' himself, if he could come clean and divulge all the deceit and cunning used in his rise to the top.
The retreat into the background during Cunningham's launching into politics which gave in to Mr Mole's own thoughts; a wonderful reflective composition executed by Golda Scotland and enwrapped the audience as part of the cast using newspaper boy Delroy Jno Charles were all quite innovative. Jamal 'Black Diamond' Lloyd led protesters in calypso call and response, making it clear to the white administrators that they wanted a local for Police Commissioner complimented by the wonderful music of 'Pan in Harmony' Orchestra all added to the dynamics of the production. I was particularly impressed with Lennox Honychurch's professionalism even with the few lines he executed.
I also noted a lack of changes in wardrobe/ attire to better differentiate times at work, meetings by hat bearing party members , an underutilization of the main prop on stage as well as Jerry Mole's monotone, through-out his dialogue and body language sometime was void of emotion. Well, in the end he did win his bet...another brilliant twist as I did not realise during the over three hour production that the story was actually being told. Great work!
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