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Thicker Than Water - A Catty Corporate Drama
With Judgement and God’s Way under her belt Dahlia Harris has built a reputation for creating entertaining dramas populated by engaging characters and plots seasoned by a little intrigue. Her most recent work Thicker Than Water lives up to that reputation. In Thicker Than Water she unleashes a melee of catty women who scratch and claw at each other in this entertaining corporate drama.
As writer, director, producer and star of Thicker Than Water is creating her own niche in the theatrical landscape. The economics of Jamaican theatre has allowed a proliferation of writer/producers but one who acts in, directs, writes and produces the show is far rarer. Harris’ position becomes even more note worthy as the roles of writer, producer and director are dominated by males.
Harris is good at creating engaging dramas and she doesn’t shy away from presenting strong female characters. Even so, Thicker Than Water does not present itself as a place for insight into the psyche of contemporary Caribbean woman. Indeed, although the characters are varied, none rise above the stereotype of the back-biting woman willing to claw down another woman on the ladder to success. The characters are just deep enough to allow a full-bodied drama, because Thicker Than Water is satisfied with being an entertaining play..
Thicker Than Water, boasts an all female cast who generally deliver good performances. The play surrounds five women working in the Human Resources department of a large corporation. When one of their number, Kimberley Thorpe (played by Dahlia Harris) gets a promotion and becomes the first female manager for the department, tensions run high. As the story unfolds it appears that there is far more to Kimberley than meets the eye, and as secrets are uncovered it becomes clear that she is not the only one.
While Harris lives up to her reputation of solid, engaging performances, it is Barrett who shimmers in this production. Barrett, fresh from her Actor Boy win for Best Supporting Actress in Stanley, Fay, Pularchie and P delivers a winning performance as the hilarious, loud, and crude Susan, an office attendant who finds the few hours she works an unwelcome incursion into her social life.
Susan taps into much of the “ghetto diva” stereotype, topped off by bright colourful tights and just as colourful hair, but she does it with such energy and drama that one simply enjoys the ride, especially as much of the plays comic relief comes through Susan. Indeed, although there is much that matches the stereotype in crafting Susan’s Harris enriches her characterization by adding a few layers to Susan.
Janella Precius (alternating with Nadean Rawlins) tackles the role of Gabrielle Bernard a woman born to privilege who has floated through life because she can. Precius’ performance lacked nuance but her shoes are lovely. Monique Smith (alternating with Shantol Jackson) delivers a commendable performance as the Nordia, a deceitful young woman who has more weave than sense and is willing to secure her position in the work world either at her desk or on her back.
Susan Beadle (alternating with Shawna Kay Burns) is solid as Natalie Johnson a woman consumed by bitterness when she feels that her loyalty to the company has been betrayed.
Thicker Than Water benefits from a wit-infused script and a equal doses of comedy, personality conflicts and intrigue. Thicker Than Water uses a decent set, though it is a little hampered by the size of the stage.
Thicker Than Water is currently playing at the Stages Theatre Complex, New Kingston.