“Inspired by God” was the slogan used for “For Better or for Worse – Recover or Lose” a play written and directed by Jeron Hackett that focused on the orthodox theme of family issues with particular emphasis being placed on marital bedlam, and was produced for One Night ONLY by REAL Theatre Company last Saturday (20th June 2015) at UWI St. Augustine’s LRC Auditorium. This production, the debut for the company, was solid, however a proper critique of the style and script, technicality, language, music, costuming and directing must be given. For without criticism, we cannot improve.
It must be noted that the play employed both experienced and amateur actors and the different levels showed on occasion. For example, there was a point where dead silence surrounded the auditorium as the audience anticipated an argument between two characters and an unsuitable, “Shout out” came from the backstage area. This did not fit the scene and later it was discovered that it was one of the actors, Janyca Sterling‘s lack of emotional composure. She was unable to separate reality from fiction and allowed her catharsis to be a publicized during the production. For her performance as “Diana“ however, she was forgiven and as an audience member remarked “Acting is hard baby girl!” It is important that as a director, Hackett helps his actors to make that key separation or he may face harsher penalities during his next production. Overall his directing talent was good. He was able to get the characters to mesh and their chemistry was great. Even the scenes where he featured were also well done. His directing future is bright and he has already paved a path of gold. I only hope that he now continues this path with platinum.
As for the script itself (by Jeron Hackett), the ideas were good and the scenes had a fair fluidity, however it was lacking in many areas. The language was used incorrectly at points; Serious lines became comedic due to his misguided usage of metaphoric language. Serious messages in similes causing individuals to laugh and smile, major metaphors causing comedic uproar and allusion becoming humorous fun. Additionally some of the language was not contextually appropriate. For example the usage of some words and phrases were not the appropriate fit for the message he was trying to send out. Furthermore, Hackett’s portrayal of evil was beyond extreme in contrast to the simplicity of the actual characters. I felt as if Darth Malt from star wars had stepped into an episode of the Bold and the Beautiful with the portrayal of the devil. However, his placement of poetic literature enhanced the ideologies such as emasculation, dishonesty, family life, love etc… and kudos must be given for this. In addition his usage of colloquial language by Hackett’s character (Uncle George) helped to bring the comedy alive. Threats such as “I will’ rumfle’ your clothes an den iron it over” had the audience in stitches. Still, I would suggest a revision of his script and minor adjustments.
Not much can be said about the technicality of the play. The lights are limited at LRC and the designer used simplistic colour schemes and lighting designs which were effective. The only criticism that can be given is the fact that the Sound Engineer should have provided microphones for the actors since the musical chorus overpowered them at times. The Costuming was also well done by the talented India Bristol. The makeup was spot on and the contextuality of the costuming was appropriate.
The musicality was the highlight of the show. While there were a few poor pitches in the vocals, the chorus and original compositions gave life to the production. The music, flavoured oh so sweetly with Caribbean influence, moved both the artistic and not so artistic alike. The musical director and the composer (Hackett as well) did an excellent job.
Real Theatre Company is buzzing with potential professional talent and I foresee great things from them. Hackett has set a high bar for himself and I encourage him to continue to review his work in order to deliver better quality each time. Perhaps he may also need to consider relinquishing the acting or the directing role when necessary so as to place extra focus on one to deliver even better quality. Expectations are high for their next production. Hackett and his team have their work cut out with the writing and producing of their next play. However, if they ever succumb to writer’s block they have the continued inspiration of God and the ideas will come based on real life situations. As Shakespeare always said: “All the world’s a stage.”