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Cast and crew of the play (photo collage supplied by Giselle Toussaint)
Cast and crew of the play (photo collage supplied by Giselle Toussaint)

I must confess that in my almost 30 years of reviewing the arts, only theatre groups have invited me to witness any event. Recently, I have not been that keen because the Arawak has been flooded with plays of similar setting, message and mood; but this one was different!

At least the intricate set design which spoke volumes was attributed to the artwork of Garvin Leblanc. It really depicted what a 19th Century London atmosphere would represent. Youthful and talented Gizelle Pierre -Toussaint I recall, loves to return to engage history to find meaning, while creating compelling stories.

This time she told the story through Jael Joseph who mastered the role of the deceitful and manipulative Scalett Duboir; a puppet mistress of sorts, who pulled all strings necessary to control the reins of power even that of Prime Minister Porter Hyland, a role played excellently by Clemendale Fontaine.

Scarlett recollected her tale of lies, deceit and corruption from her dying hospital bed. The burping of the life support system faded into Landon's bar, the go to medication for the troubles of life which visited the "rich and famous". Landon Reynolds, the owner and a retired politician (played by Garvin Leblanc) was very accommodating to all. Suddenly amidst drinks and conversation the radio interrupted - the Prime Minister of Cayuna had died. Garvin Clifford was seen and celebrated as the obvious successor by his cabinet colleague, Khalil Telemaque.

This was not to be. Minutes before the swearing in ceremony Porter Hyland was the preferred choice; it was the doings of Scarlett Duboir who set up her "lover" so that she could benefit from the elevated status.

It took some nine years for the media to realize something was amiss through letters which change hands and subsequently revealed the truth. Someone had to pay for this "treachery" and so Scarlett Duboir again sprang into 'puppeteering' action once more; Prime Minister Porter Hyland must fire one-time rival Minister Garvin (Ezekiel Joseph) as the informant. Without any question the "dammed fool" got caught in the web which forced Minister Garvin Clifford to resign.

Helen Hyland played by the experienced Monelle Alexis is caught in a sensual moment with the Prime Minister in his office by none other than Scarlett herself. Not only that, the PM dismissed her citing that Helen was his lady and she Scarlett really meant nothing despite the moments they spent in bed. Scarlett Duboir (who could not believe that she was asked to leave his office instead of this 'tramp') reminded the PM before she stormed out to find solace in the liquor at Landon's that she was the one who made him and therefore, could break him. This was the only time in the production that Scarlett seemed not to be in control while the Prime Minister seems to be…for a moment.

The writer/director turned the audience attention from Landon's bar to a screen which finally answered the question how the former PM Arnold died; he was poisoned by Scarlett! I thought that this reflective interjection was a brilliant innovation by the young Gizelle who has really matured in her art.

After the lengths she had gone to plot to remove the 'ungrateful' PM Hyland from his high-handed, a power surge had begun; not only did Scarlett want him to pay but former Minister Gavin who turned journalist, an editor of a newspaper much to the amusement of Scarlett who had plotted his demise.

After the PM's marriage to Helen Hyland other underhand and under-the-table deals started to come to the fore; his ministers walked off on a meeting which he called citing that it was all a one man show. Like a master chess player Scarlett Duboir manipulated the pawns in search of revenge.

She changed her elaborate attire and cigarettes as often as she did her devious plots; he signed all the documents, attended all the meetings; no one had anything on her, she had worked well behind the scenes.

Triumphantly she arrived at the PM's cocktail dressed in victorious 'red'. The PM had lost out on some of his crooked deals with investors and the spoils all went to her, so it was time to celebrate and taunt him at his own event. She was the in control, cigarette smoking, sophisticated, hair flicking, Scarlett Duboir once again. But then an unexpected death and the chickens came home to roost…

The mood of the play was aptly accentuated by soothing jazzy overtones of pan, keyboards and sax playing "Autumn Leaves". Complimenting the background music was the very classy wardrobes befitting of ministers of government, the persona of a Miss Duboir and an upscale bar. I noted the use of lights, the freeze and the ease of transition into various scenes as well as the realism created by the Intensive Care Unit scene and flash back on screen.

The most dramatic, intriguing dialogue was the exchanges between the aggrieved Scarlett and Mrs Hyland over 'their beloved' PM. The cunning overtures, aspersions and undertones, reflective of Dominica's political landscape, were cleverly crafted through-out.

Gladys (Tatiana Sablon) one of the PM's supporters was peeved at not having been invited to his wedding, PM's Secretary Abbiah Rolle (Jeanine Andrews), Attorney, Amber Lewis (Wynante Charles) all played good supporting roles. In the case of Shirvon Baron however, (who had triple roles) his hairstyle, attire and to a lesser extent his mannerism were not befitting of the esteemed role of President; that was the only flaw apart from a couple distortions from the on stage microphones. The play was powerful. I gave it a rating of 9 out of 10.


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