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A Light 'Internet Affair'

Brian-Ray Moore and Pepita Little in Aston Cooke's Internet Affair

It seems that the summer 2013 season of theatre in Jamaica was about sex, sex and more sex. The string of summer plays have produced stories about prostitutes, incest, and ... well God alone knows what Risque was about. So, when Aston Cooke’s romantic comedy Internet Affair arrived at the tail end of the season, it wasn’t surprising that it too focused on sex. Yet, while the content was expected, it’s a little hard to believe that Internet Affair, was penned by Cooke, who is usually a solid writer.

The new Jamaican play, produced by Aston Cooke Theatre (ACT) is currently running at the Pantry Playhouse, New Kingston. The play is a five-hander which explores the off and online affairs of a recently married couple.
Aston Cooke's Internet Affair explores the on and offline relationships of a young couple
The play is directed by new comer Rayon McClean. While this is McClean’s first commercial piece, he has been building a reputation through the work of the performing arts group Quilt. Internet Affair carries some of the markers of McClean’s experimental approach and it isn’t a bad first outing.

Unfortunately, the largely young cast could have used a more experienced directorial hand. McClean doesn’t handle the use of space well, but more importantly, he is unable to pull the emotional nuances required from his actors. In an aside, someone needs to run a sexiness workshop for young male actors, highlighting that more than licking your lips as though you are LL Cool J is required.

The two lead actors Marsha Campbell as Donna (she alternates with Danielle Edwards) and Brian-Ray Moore as Phillip (alternating with Ricardo McFarlane) are particularly weak, with barely a hint of emotional range between them.

The weight of the production then falls to the support cast Akeem Mignott (Gregory), Petrina Williams (Monique) and Pepita Little (Candy). These three are far more engaging. Mignott is coPetrina Williams (front) and Marsha Campbellming into his own as an actor, and he is responsible for much of the energy of Internet Affair, especially when Little is not on the stage. Little, despite her penchant for over-acting, had great energy as did Williams.

Internet Affair also falls short on its technical aspects: set design, lighting and costuming. The set seems out of sync with the characters and their social station. There is some attempt at adding symbolic meaning through colour and while the attempt is commendable, it is not well executed.

Brian-Ray Moore and Akeem MignottPepita Little and Brian-Ray MooreYet the responsibility of where Internet Affair falls cannot be laid fully at the feet of the limited skills of the cast or the as yet undeveloped skills of the director. A huge part of the problem is that the characters are themselves poorly developed with Candy and Donna being down right stereotypical and come across as stupid, vapid women.

Though reasonably funny, Internet Affair bears little of Cooke’s usual command of emotional nuance or insight into social and relationship issues. Cooke has previously offered up Jamaica 2 Rahtid, Concubine, and Single Entry, against which Internet Affair appears to be a serving of Cooke-light: it’s palatable, but a lot less flavourful