Tue | Dec 6, 2022

‘Hide Your Husband’ an amusing escapist comedy

Published:Monday | May 16, 2022 | 12:08 AMMichael Reckord/Gleaner Writer
From left: Donald Anderson, Maylynne Lowe and Earle Brown in a tense scene from Hide Your Husband.
From left: Donald Anderson, Maylynne Lowe and Earle Brown in a tense scene from Hide Your Husband.
A playful moment between Donald Anderson and Maylynne Lowe in ‘Hide Your Husband’.
A playful moment between Donald Anderson and Maylynne Lowe in ‘Hide Your Husband’.
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Theatre is back. Hurrah!

You lovers of the live stage now have a chance to see the first commercial play produced in the island during the COVID-19 era. On any evening, except Mondays, you can go to Kingston’s Little Little Theatre for Hide Your Husband, written and produced by veteran theatre practitioner Basil Dawkins.

He has broken his pandemic-dictated, two-year absence from the stage with an escapist comedy, a change from his usual offerings of ‘dramedy’ (aka, comedy drama). It was a wise decision, if one can judge by the waves of laughter that continually surged from the audience when I saw the show a few nights ago. The patrons were apparently in a mood for laughter – not surprisingly, after all the stress and distress of current times.

Even before you get inside and see the stage, you get a hint from the printed programme about what’s to come. It tells you that the action takes place “in the penthouse of a very upscale condominium complex in Kingston”. No inner-city angst from the playwright this time.

The first person walking into the well-appointed living room – designed by Robin Baston and decorated by Qindell Ferguson – is a woman who looks like she belongs there. She is the lovely Cibony Angels (Maylynne Lowe), and she is dressed in comfortable, sexy black sleepwear, with lots of toned skin showing. The outfit is the first of many beautiful ones that Cibony wears during the hour-and-a-half-long play. Costumes were designed/chosen by Lowe herself and TK Dawkins, the play’s director and the playwright’s daughter.

A different kind of doubling up takes place with the casting of another character, Roger. He is played alternately by Earle Brown and Michael Forrest, with the former being the actor whom I saw. The third character in this tight production, Locksley, is played by Donald Anderson, who – Surprise! Surprise! – also did the voice recordings.

There are a number of voices emanating offstage, most of them threatening to Cibony, who, despite her pleasing appearance and charming ways when others are around, is a really devious character. We learn from her telephone conversations with an unseen friend that she specialises in conning men and that she prefers the married variety, hence the play’s title, Hide Your Husband.

To the men in her life, she speaks Standard English, but with her phone friend she speaks Jamaican dialect, so we are not surprised that she had a rural upbringing. She’s from St Elizabeth, which could explain her ‘high colour’.

In a satirical social comment on her way of life and her code-switching, she explains to her friend, “As a pretty browning in this country, yuh can get anyting yu want if yu ask nicely and in proper English.” Her self-centred manipulation of Locksley and Roger does not reveal her true, or, at any rate, her complete personality, and as the play proceeds, we see her in another light.

The same is true of the men. This is a tribute to the playwright’s insight into the human soul and skill in character creation. People are complex; the more multidimensional characters a writer can create in a story, novel or play, the more interesting it will be.

As the writer peels layers from his characters, revealing new skins, he or she should, concomitantly, turn and twist the story in ways that will pleasantly surprise the audience. This play shows that, despite the many months away from the Little Little Theatre, where for decades he had annually opened a new production, Dawkins has not lost his ability to pirouette. You’d never guess the ending from what you see in the beginning.

It would be unfair to future audiences to reveal all THE intricacies of the plot, of course. Suffice it to say that, after sanitising your hands at the door and donning a mask for inside the theatre, you’ll find Hide Your Husband a treat.