You are here

Dahlia Harris' To The Finish Has A Winning Combination

(l-r) Nadean Rawlins, Christopher McFarlane and Julene Robinson in To The Finish

Jamaica’s prowess on the track has brought the nation much to. with cause to beat our collective chests and yell from the mountaintops how great we are. However, last year, when news that a few of our top athletes were being accused of doping, it not surprisingly unleashed waves of recrimination, as our superheroes stumbled and revealed their all too human underbellies. On to this stage trots Dahlia Harris’ To The Finish an exploration of drugs and athletics.

Ably directed by Harris and Suzanne Beadle, the play brings thoughtful treatment to an issue which in the main has been relegated to either sound bites or the huff and puff of talk shows. To The Finish provides a lens through which to examine some of the personal issues behind doping in athletics. 

Jerry Benzwick and Julene RobinsonTo The Finish follows the career trajectory of sprinter Victoria Speid as she moves from being a high school track star on to the big leagues as a professional runner. Victoria hails from a small rural community. Her parents are small farmers and while her father mindlessly encourages her dreams, they conflict directly with her mother’s insistence that what she needs to do is focus on academics and get a career. Athletics, however soon promises a far more lucrative route, but beyond the glitter and glamour, Victoria has to leap over the hurdles of her coach, her family and the unforgiving public.

To the Finish generally benefits from a solid cast. In the lead role is Julene Robinson who has become an actress to watch. Over the past few years she has delivered a slew of strong back to back performances from Basil Dawkins Where is My Father to her magnificent portrayal in Karl William’s monologue ‘Me and My White Boy’. To the Finish provides her with a lead role worthy of her talents. Robinson’s portrayal of Victoria Speid is textured and engaging as she allows us to watch Victor blossom from a shy enthusiastic and obedient child to a more confident woman.Young Victoria Speid (Robinson) peeks out as her parents decide her future

The support cast features Nadean Rawlins, Christopher McFarlane, Carl Samuels and Jerry Benzwick. The chemistry between McFarlane and Rawleans is fantastic and both provide realistic and engaging performances, however, it is when Rawleans and Robinson dominate the stage that some of the plays most taut and emotionally potent scenes happen. Benzwick and Samuels were both solid, and this is perhaps one of Benzwick’s best performances in a while.

Rawlins and McFarlane exuded great chemistryWith To The Finish, Harris creates a witty, thoughtful script, that even though it veers toward a bit of a fairytale ending, it remains plausible, peopled by realistic, multi-dimensional characters. 

To the Finish brings home the point that our athletes deserve more than casual dismissal when they fall and our people deserve plays that allow them to face contemporary and relevant issues. The play provides a good run for your money offering the winning combination of good actors, a good script and solid directing.

To The Finish is currently playing at the Pantry Playhouse, New Kingston.