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From Jamaica to London and Back Again: Tony Hendriks and Ricky Rowe Bring Home Samson and Di Liar

Tony Hendriks and Ricky Rowe in the comedy Samson and Di Liar

Relative new comer, at least to being a commercial theatre producer, Scarlette Beharie is bringing home the comedy Samson and Di Liar, starring Tony Hendriks and Ricky Rowe. The play will be a welcome addition to an unusually quiet summer. For several years, Jamaican theatre enjoyed a bouyant summer season to compliment the traditional Christmas openings. This year theatre goers have been a little starved for fare, with only two comedies from Jambiz International to sate their appetites. 

Samson and Di Liar will be a coming home project and stepping out project. The comedy will open at the Little Little Theatre in Kingston on Friday, August 21, 2015. The play, originally crafted by Winston ‘Bello’ Bell and significantly re-written by its co-stars Hendriks and Rowe, was first produced in London in 2013. Described as a tale of music, madness and friendship, the play surrounds two homeless men who live on the streets of Kingston examining how they hustle, scheme, and eventually, make music. 

Both actors who have been gone from the Jamaican theatre landscape for the past fifteen years, are excited to have the play brought home to Jamaica, which they admit was always their intention.

“We were always thinking about it [bringing the play home],” says Rowe. We always wanted to come back to Jamaica because this is where it should be.” 

Samson and Di Liar was actually the first piece that both actors worked on together while the United Kingdom. 

“I remember sitting in my flat when you [Ricky] called and asked if I had looked at the play Bello sent and said, you thought we should do it,” Hendriks reminisces. The two actors share an easy camaraderie, because although Samson and Di Liar was the first time they shared a stage together in London, it was not the first time they had shared a stage.

“We first played together in Laugh Jamaica,” Hendriks explained. At the time, Hendriks was already an established figure in Jamaican theatre while Rowe was a budding thespian at the School of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Now the two are on equal footing, and happy to be working with their producer and director whom they believe has the right vision for the show.

“I have worked in several aspects of theatre for the past 15 years,” Beharie says. “So, this is a natural progression for me. At this stage, I don’t only want to work on exciting theatre, I want to create it.”

Though this will be the first time she has produced solo for commercial theatre, Beharie has produced work for the Jamaica Association of Dramatic Actors (JADA) and was co-producer on Last Call. She goes on to explain that her yearning to expand her work in theatre and the return of Hendriks and Rowe was serendipitous.

“I’ve always wanted to work with Tony and Ricky, so this show is the perfect vehicle,” Beharie said. She revealed that she has high hopes for the production and is exploring possibilities for touring regionally and throughout the Diaspora.

Samson and Di Liar plays at the Little Little Theatre through to Sunday, September 20, 2015.