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Boy Blue - Amusing

Boy Blue (Oliver Samuels) threatens Bella (Dennis Titus)

After watching my second Ginger Knight play in just a few months, I’m growing  increasingly fond of his skill with the pen. Last year the University Players successfully staged Whiplash, and now, Oliver Samuels Marketing and Entertainment is staging the comedy Boy Blue, a little less successfully, but a sufficiently entertaining production.

OSME’s Boy Blue, directed by and staring Samuels doesn’t maximize the play’s potential for two main reasons. First, Samuels only taps into the play’s comedic strengths and fails to mine its dramatic elements. Secondly, the majority of the cast is weak. Therefore, the drama and even some of the humour  of the play is lost, making Boy Blue pretty amusing rather than down right hilarious.

The play features Samuels in the title role, Audrey Reid as Hyacinth, Dennis Titus as Bella Speed, Melissa Holness as Precious, and Dean Martin as Stanley. Samuels and Reid are the only members of the cast who deliver a strong performance as they are the only two able to exploit the play’s comedic strength. So the scenes with feature Reid and Samuels are strongest. Unfortunately, Samuel’s success as an actor has not been equalled by his skill as a director, and Boy Blue suffers for this.

Hyacinth (Audrey Reid) and Precious (Melissa Holness)The comedic yard play is set in the 1980s and takes place outside a low-income home. Boy Blue benefits from a good yet simple set which helps to provide much of its context. It explores intersecting (albeit lop-sided) love triangles between the main characters Bella, Precious and Boy Blue on the one hand, and Bella, Precious and Hyacinth on the other.

The Boy Blue archetype fits wonderfully in the fabric of Jamaican popular culture having been enshrined in song and, evidently, on the stage. In this incarnation, Boy Blue is a corrupt low-level policeman who preys on Bella Speed, a low-level criminal, in part to win Precious’ affections. Boy Blue is a semi-educated trickster who is envious of others and schemes his way into getting what he wants. The character is a classic ‘Oliver’ figure, and Samuels plays it well. Hyacinth (Audrey Reid) and Boy Blue (Oliver Samuels)

Hyacinth is the female version of Boy Blue. She too learns to gain what she wants by taking advantage of others. It is clear however that Knight had less liking for her hypocrisy, because whereas Boy Blue is tossed aside as a mere buffoon, she comes closest to being  made the villain in the story. Reid plays her with great energy which helps to significantly lift the production.

Holness delivers a fair performance but she lacks vocal and emotional range, and barely manages to scratch the surface of this intriguing character. There are never clear motivations for her actions and to play her flat is to rob the production of its potential.

Dennis Titus may be physically suited for the part, but he barely turns up for this performance which is spectacularly uninteresting. His lisp is annoying, his characterization is uninteresting and he is about only able to convincingly deliver a screw-face.

Yet, despite the limitations of the cast, the play is reasonably entertaining. Boy Blue is currently playing at the Theatre Place, New Kingston.