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The Fourth Time Remains a Charm for Basil Dawkins' Toy Boy
In its fourth journey to the Jamaican stage, Basil Dawkins’ Toy Boy has been taken over by a new generation of actors and the director and they have handled themselves admirably, presenting an enjoyable take on a Jamaican play that which each staging inches closer to becoming a classic.
Toy Boy is an un-decided love story between a mad man and an upperclass woman, who at least at times, is of questionable mental health herself. Wrap-Up has been homeless and insane for numerous years and now lives from the recycled leavings of his supposed betters. This is about to change when one night he comes to rest in the garbage of the upperclass denizen Josephine Benedict. Josephine has been spurned by her friends and feels lonely and abandoned when she comes across Wrap-Up who intrigues her and gives her a project to live for and an outlet for her thwarted attempts at love. She therefore drags Wrap-Up from the garbage and scrubs him off, convinced she can now ward off loneliness and the spite of her circle of ‘frenemies’.
The play currently features Christopher McFarlane as Wrap-Up and Maylynne Lowe as Josephine and is in the hands of Toni-Kay Dawkins, in her directorial debut. It is a good fit for TK Dawkins as she manages the two-hander with ease, no doubt benefitting from the fact that neither actor is a new comer and both deliver strong performances.
Toy Boy unfolds well and presents a fare balance of humour and drama. Indeed, it is a refreshing take on the story that is completely unburdened by the previous stagings.
One of the welcome elements is that TK Dawkins is not afraid to unveil the licentious ambitions that Josephine has for Wrap-Up long before he has made his journey to mental wellness. McFarlane and Lowe have good chemistry and work well together in this production, and the play also unveils a greater level of intimacy between the two characters.
Additionally, while Volier Johnson, who has undertaken the role of Wrap-up until the current staging, was great in the role, he was never a convincing ‘boy’. McFarlane, gives a solid performances, and notably brings a deference to the role, that makes it more evident that Josephine is creating a plaything and allows the play to live up to its name, which before hadn’t really fit.
It isn’t often that I enjoy performances by Maylynne Lowe, but sometimes she is well cast. This is the case with Toy Boy, and she delivers even if she can’t live up to the full emotional tornado that is possible from Josephine Bennett. Additionally, current casting heightens nuances to the play that had been previously been submerged. With Lowe and McFarlane, the underlying conversations about shade and class raises its unkempt head, and though it isn’t mentioned, it’s now visually cued.
I must also admit, that a great part of my enjoyment of the play comes from seeing it in the Little Theatre. Dawkins’ productions have generally had good sets, but with the increase space to play with on the Little Theatre stage (as opposed to the smaller spaces where most of his productions are held), the visual impact of Michael Lorde’s design is magnified many times over.
Toy Boy is currently playing at the Little Theatre, and closes on Sunday, October 13, 2013. It opened on Saturday, October 5, 2013.