Watler’s War offers slice of Cayman history

Cayman’s unsung hero, Major Rodriguez Watler, came to life on the Prospect Playhouse stage last week.

watlers war

From left; Brittany Bordeen, as Rachel Watler, and Keiko Yamamoto as Daisy Ebanks, in Watlers War.
Photo: Joanna Lewis

Written by local playwright Colin Wilson the Cayman Drama Society production offers an entertaining glimpse into Cayman life during World War II.

Set in the run up to Christmas in 1942 and seen mainly through the eyes of young Janet Watler, played by 13-year-old Danielle Borden, the play covers such broad topics as romance, teenage pregnancy, tragedy and even murder, keeping theatregoers on the edge of their seat throughout.

Based on a true story, and staged for the very first time, the play tells the tale of the Watler family and features the Captain of the Home Guard and Chief of Police, Roddy Watler, as he discovers a German spy operating in Cayman.

The 14-strong cast put on a pleasing display of polished theatrical skills, which entertained from beginning to end.

Kudos must go to Danielle Borden who plays the lead role of Janet Watler and to Angelica Borden, who stars as Emily Watler. Keiko Yamamoto put on an excellent and believable performance as the lovesick Daisy Ebanks, as did Maria Kennedy as the formidable Aunt Hildredge.

The play is made all the more believable with a more than impressive set, a traditional replica of a Caymanian wattle and daub house forming the centre-piece.

Watler’s War certainly offers something for everyone, and even young children will enjoy the colourful set and lively on-stage action.

In particular, the two-hour drama will appeal to those interested in seeing a slice of Cayman’s history come to life on the stage.

Rodriguez ‘Roddy’ Watler was born on 3 March, 1880, in Red Bay and passed away in April 1965 at the age of 85. He served as Inspector of Police for nearly thirty-three years, and was also Lighthouse Keeper, Foreman of Public Works, Boarding Officer of Vessels, and Warehouse Keeper. In 1942, he was appointed Officer in Charge of the Cayman Islands Company of the Jamaican Home Guard, a post he held until 1945 when the war ceased. In the 1932 hurricane he exhibited bravery in rescuing people who were marooned in Red Bay, and for this service he was awarded the King Edward VII Police Medal for Bravery.

Mr. Wilson wrote Watler’s War in 2003, inspired by his wife Joan Watler, Roddy Watler’s youngest daughter. The play went on to win the 2003 National Cultural Foundation Playwriting Competition. Mr. Wilson has written over 20 plays, six of which have been published. Past plays include Magna Carta: The Musical Trial of King John, and The Judith Code. Mr. Wilson’s latest play, Mary Slessor: White Ma, is set to be published later this year and he is currently working on a pantomime, The Witch and the Spinning Wheel.

Watler’s War is being staged tonight (Friday), Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, 27 and Saturday, 28 June. Showtime is 7.30pm, Sunday performances are at 3pm. Tickets are $35, $15 for children under 12. Call the box office on 949-5054. Visit www.caymandrama.org.ky for further details.

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