A Review of NDT's "Desired Will"
Desired Will is the 32nd theatrical production of a group that spans some three decades and is the longest serving theatre group in Dominica. So much for the saying, "Nothing in Dominica lasts". This latest play presented by the New Dimension Theatre is written along previous themes of envy, greed, jealousy and societal ills which seem to be central in the writings of Steve Hyacinth, founder, director and Golden Drum recipient.
Nonetheless, this time it was a comedy which featured veteran, perennial star actress Donille Blackmore (Crazema), Co- founder of the group Jerry Coipel (Meldon), Ashworth "Brong" Simon (Never Sober) and John Liverpool as Coco. The multi- talented and fast rising Monelle Alexis was entrusted with a major role as Dorothy while Gracia Telemacque, who ably played the role of Melrose, heads the list of the relatively new acts on stage.
It always fascinates me how Blackmore gets into a completely different character on stage that is quite unlike her quiet gait in the real world. I think the director will call this characterization, but also one who is easy to be type-casted. However, the stereotyping works every time as she has grown to be Dominica's most loved and awarded actress. Now about the play.
It's Sunday and the church attire does nothing to hide the tension which exist in the yard despite talk of codfish and its origins after Foxy- Jay St John, tried foxing Coco to buy some. "I don't know of no supermarket they calling Labass," was Crazema response.
From then on it was all about greed and who is to bequeath the estate after Papa died. Papa's motto "Each of us, must help all of us" does not seem to go down well with Dorothy (Monelle Alexis) wife of the pilot Meldon (Jerry Coipel) to whom the estate was "willed". "Not over my dead body" vowed Crazema, sentiments echoed by sister Melrose (played by Gracia Telemacque) even as the younger Melsheba (Yannel Bruno) took the opportunity to shed tears at almost every occasion in her role as peace maker… the audience fell in love and at times anticipated her crying diversions.
Meanwhile, the provocative Erica (Lyn Charles) consistently keeps making fun of Dorothy's "Shoe" obsession whenever she struts past her home.
"On top of the mountain On top of the shoe"
In fact her mother, Ma Lord (Andra Nanton) who played her part with a calm motherly demeanor, intimated as to whether she went to church just to show off her dressing. The aggression of Crazema (emphasis on Craz-e) whether it's by way of batons, throwing of stones, or insults hurled in the direction of Dorothy whom she felt was the one influencing her brother, Meldon, not to give them a stake in the estate, kept the audience engaged all the time. The hilarious comedy was frequently moistened by Melsheba's teardrops and the agonizing cries of "Mr Harriman", towards the unseen Papa by the obviously haunted Coco. This was creatively utilized by the director to temper rising tensions. Time, eavesdropping and 'rum- talk' revealed that there seem to be two wills as the one in the Bible did not seem to have been worded the same way as what Meldon's wife, Dorothy, intimated in giving her husband absolute rights to Papa's estate.
Well, the audience even became more convinced that probably the trouble-making Crazema was not so crazy after all, when Never Sober refused his first drink ever, to reveal the contents of the will which Papa allowed him to preview before he died.
It seems that Papa could not "rest in peace" and neither was Coco allowed as the visions and haunting became more pronounced. Balif (Henzron Witlshire) delivered the death blow- an eviction notice that literally declared the area a war zone and, according to elder sister Crazema , making them squatters on their father estate!
Intertwined in this fast-paced comedy swipes were taken at persons who come for "Happy Hour" pretending to sympathize in your time of grief, the Chinese who was thought to be taking over the commercial sector, persons who lend and never bring back, name change of mountains, tardiness in society, lack of patriotism, paros and their habits, even suggestions of romantic escapades between the "two seconds' Coco and Melrose and Crazema's out of the blue utterance to finally finding an ally in Ping (Travis Lawrence), literally ripped the spellbound audience apart.
"Have I told you lately that I love you?"
Though the cast squared up at times on the first night, the use of symbolism, the Bible and truth, the prominence of red among the shoes and stone throwing messages were quite evident as none was "without sin".
The platform had been set for a collision of WILLS and DESIRES, greed versus truth. Not even the bribes of rings or shoes could avert the inevitable. Both sides of the pun in Desired Will was about to be revealed, and who was implicated within the contents was a well-kept secret till the very end… very engaging!