Play tests actors, audience intellect

Frank McField’s play One White One
Black, staged at the Harquail Studio Theatre last Thursday, Friday and Saturday
played to appreciative audiences.

The one-act play written in 1992
was a two-hander performed by Michael McLaughlin (George) and Fritz McPherson
(Bob).

The drama was about   two elderly vagrants who try to reconcile
themselves to being left by their wives by role playing as the spouse of the
other.

The intimate setting of the
Harquail Studio Theatre was ideal for this bitter-sweet play about relationships,
power and self-knowledge. The audience and the actors were so close together
that it heightened every nuance and gesture. One almost felt like a voyeur as
the actors, using a taught script and strong direction, gradually unpeeled the
layers of their characters and those of the former wives.

The dialogue was at turns painful,
funny and raw.

With all the frankness of a
confessional, George and Bob helped each other work through a miasma of
conflict and crisis before reaching the necessary resolution that would allow
them to move on with their lives.

At the end of the performance, the
audience was invited to take part in a question and answer session with the
playwright, the actors and the director, Henry Muttoo.

In a post-performance interview the
dramatist, said: “The play is an amalgam of several other pieces, which I made
into One White One Black about 18 years ago”.

Mr. McField explained that the play,
which includes plenty of language play and confusion, was specifically written
as a vehicle to showcase actors’.

“I’d wanted to create something
challenging to perform,” he said.

“The play involves a multiplicity
of roles and takes into account the serious theatrical tradition where the
power of the characters is communicated through the ability of the actor rather
than the writer.

“[Ultimately] the play is about the
search for self and that quest cannot be done independently of others,” he
added.

Mr. McField, who is working on his
first new play in several years, said: “Caribbean drama has come to the point
where it’s mainly farce, folk comedy and is far removed from tackling the
realism and moral dilemmas seen in the work of Trevor Rhone [The Harder They
Come] and other playwrights.

“We need to return to [writing]
plays, which challenge the audience and are intellectual, so that they provoke
wider discourse about society.”

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