Jamaica Magazine

Play Review: Dahlia Harris finds, teaches God’s Way in New Kingston, Jamaica

 Once again another Jamaican is pleading for others to come into peaceful prosperity by choosing God’s Way. Playwright Dahlia Harris teaches many about ‘God’s Way’ at The Theatre Place in New Kingston Haining Road, to finding  peaceful prosperity.

 The play is plotted in an uptown home. It begins with three persons engaged in a prayer meeting in the ‘blessed’ home of Valerie, wife of unseen Carlton ‘Donald Martin’ (Dahlia Harris).  The other prayer warriors are Deacon (Ainsley Whyte), Samantha (Trudy Campbell) and .as the prayer meeting ends Georgia (Sabrena MacDonald), as Valerie and Carlton’s daughter enters. These are the only four seen characters in the play, although refrence is made to other ‘personalities’ in a flavourful manner.

  The play is unique in addressing a scenario not often confronted at the podium, but very well existing in Jamaica today. The drug or crime lord earning his bread abroad through crime to live in comfort back home is a ‘common assault’. However, the actual plot is crafty as the crime lord is married to a sanctimonious christian, Valerie, who is held in high esteem as the ever righteous sister, so ‘rewarded’ with material wealth for her strong faith, causing others to be in constant retrospect of themselves.
The irony is that it is Valerie who needs to take retrospect on her life when she is suddenly faced with two dilemnas – her blindness at her own realities of her ‘farmwork’ husband  being a narcotic kingpin  in the United States, and a challenging relationship with her daughter especially after its revealed that her daughter has been his confidante.

This is the main plot of the play, but other issues unfold in the well-packaged drama, which encourages patrons to take stock of their choices and commitments, through the supporting characters and references especially when it comes to God’s Way. The gospel roots play spreading the message of God’s Way. It’s great to see Valerie i being awakened and humbled by onstage experiences. Bringing the bible to life, she like biblical character Job opts to strengthen her faith in God until her change is wrought.

At the end she moves back to the ghetto world with joy and peace focused on God’s Way.

The play’s drama slowly unfolds, but ripens with excitement especially during strategic bible verse matches and impacting scenes. How the true identity of Valerie’s husband is made known, the fight between Valerie and Georgia, the daughter who ends up being hospitalised, and the car park scene where Georgia is almost arrested are a few to arrest the attention of drama thirsty patrons.
The turning point early in the play is among the strongest points of the play -  the revelation of Carlton as criminal lord and the scene is deft with skill as the characters are convincing.
The lack of flow in how the relationship between Deacon and Samantha matures, and yet the too quickening relationship between Samantha and Georgia which sped past the natural pace of the overall plot, were cause for concern. The connection between phones answered and rings are also disturbing.

Still not enough to affect the appreciation for the work. Dahlia Harris herlself could be more dramatic, especially the scene with her lamenting over the current ‘wrath of God’ as punishment for her past ‘sin’ in allowing her friend to drown, at least the night when I saw it. She is to be commended however, as did fair being literally head cook and bottle washer, being producer, director, playwright, eventually substituting for lead actor unavoidably absent.
.This obsrvation is classic Jamaican christianity – to see current mishaps as recompense for some past ill, however forgotten.

All the issues addressed bear good witness of the church today, and with due instructions on taking stock on God’s way. It answers ‘Does the righteous have to suffer?” indirectly through many ways, especially the test of a longstanding friendship. Other issues brought out are sex and intimacy within the church, materialism, the young adult who must choose between the highway and lowly byway. Valerie’s close friend Samantha comes across as the Delilah of the bible, not because she is manipulating a male, but the young woman Georgia into preferring her to her own mother – Valerie. She continues in a conniving way to appear mor self-righteous than Valerie, until she herself is put to the test of choosing God’s Way in dealing with indiscipline in keeping with Ephesians. 
 Overall the construct of the play is solid, creativity mediocre. It’s raw Jamaican roots culture of the church. Bible touting believers, too self righteous to recognise the true value of christianity – love, selflessness and entity for others, and coming to terms with being leaders just by choosing God’s way.

The pplay is even easier because the scenes are all from within the same house. The colourful props, music and lighting give life and also bearts witness to the taste of Jamaicans. To be thanked for complete package are:


Executive Producer                   DMH Productions
Director                                    Dahlia Harris
Script                                       Dahlia Harris
Stage Manager             Bridgette Smith
Set Design                                Douglas Prout
                                                Kirk Nunes
Se t Construction                      Atlan Lopez
                                                Andrew Roache
Set Décor                                 Karl Hart
                                                Douglas Prout
Lighting Design             MarlonWilliams
Light & Sound Tech                 Robert Vaughn
Costumes                                 Marie Lovelock
Photography                             Michael McLeish
                                                Aston Cooke
Publicity                                   Dahlia Harris & Associates
Box Office                                Helen Steele
Front of House             Shauna-Kaye Baker

About the author

Anthea McGibbon

Anthea McGibbon, Editor and senior journalist, features arts, culture and people of Jamaica. Contact her at [email protected] or [email protected]