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Dangerous Ambitions Misses Its Mark

Sarge (Volier Johnson) and Coach (Christopher McFarlane)

A look at corruption, especially political corruption, is a regular element of the Jamaican stage. However, this is often carried out as satire and therefore the serious focus and contemplation which Basil Dawkins’ Dangerous Ambitions, currently running at the Little Little Theatre, brings to the subject is certainly welcome and timely. Unfortunately, the play fails to live up to its own ambitions.

Dangerous Ambitions is directed by Douglas Prout and produced by Dawkins. The play explores political corruption, and much of what it demonstrates resonates with Jamaica’s murky political waters. The four hander focuses on the schemes of Elder (George Howard) as he attempts to gain political power by enlisting and manipulating those around him including the young Coach (Christopher McFarlane), Alexia (Maylynne Lowe), her estranged lover Vinton McFayden (Rory Baugh) and the somewhat hapless Sarge (Volier Johnson).

Dawkins seems to have also intended to make a full sweep by including corruption in religious circles as in the early stages of the play Elder’s makes comments about being engged in a Alexia (Maylynne Lowe) and Vinton (Rory Baugh)“God ting”. However this is never explored allowing the references to stick out awkwardly. The play also attempts to do some exploration of the relationship between uptown and downtown, especially in relation to business owners operating in the innercity. The relations between Alexia and Elder had significantly potential, but here again a full exploration was aborted.

The play benefits from a decent set and has sufficiently experienced cast members. Unfortunately, with the exception of Johnson, the performances are decent, but none is riveting. Volier’s character Sarge was a very welcome addition to the play as the character significantly reduced its often tediousness. Johnson is a fine comedic actor and his timing his impeccable, but the presence and confidence that his belly commands is another matter all together and in Dangerous Ambitions it gives one of its best performances ever. Indeed, it is high time that Volier Johnson’s belly got its own award.Vinton (Rory Baugh) and Elder (George Howard)

Howard, preaches far too much and delivers a flat performance, a sharp fall from his role as Glock in last year’s Where Is My Father. Lowe is equally flat although the character Alexia has great potential, and there is much that could be explored about contemporary female sexuality which merely lies fallow.

Christopher McFarlane remains as solid as he normally is, however he is clearly miscast as the character of Coach is a far younger man and the discrepancy shows. Baugh’s return to acting is less than striking. He makes a decent effort, but the character Vinton McFayden is easily forgettable inspiring neither love nor scorn.

 As with several of Dawkin’s productions, Dangerous Ambitions attempts to balance the dramatic and the comedic, and he has managed this with great success in the past, including last year’s Where Is My Father. Alas Dangerous Ambitions is strong on neither element. The play is a decent effort, it is mildly amusing and occasionally funny, but the plot is insufficiently compelling and the characters unremarkable.