”THE LAST BADJOHN OF CALYPSO”
Produced by Kurt Allen and Company
by Anita Smith-Henze
on behalf of the Board of Directors
On Friday evening, June 20, 2014, an almost full-house at Naparima Bowl enjoyed “The Last Badjohn of Calypso,” a delightful, fun-filled, and riveting production presented by Mr. Kurt Allen and Company.
Upon entering Naparima Bowl, it was clear that much time, effort and creativity had been expended to give rise to an atmosphere of “a long-time or countryside village” in Trinbago. Patrons were greeted at the main entrance to a galvanized-enclosed “latrine,” or “WC,” as part of the set. So, from the beginning, it was obvious that this show was going to be very innovative.
The stage was converted in an amazing, true-to-form manner, bringing to reality what actually could have been happening in the backyard of someone’s home in a village – rusting galvanize partitions, old wooden houses, half doors with flaming red curtains, standpipe outside; not without the corner bar or rum shop. It was all so familiar.
With no hesitation, this was one of the better productions that I have had the privilege to enjoy at the Bowl.
Appearing initially as interruption, it soon became apparent that the provocatively dressed females interacting with the audience were part of the production. They characterized women who were either under the influence or angry -- certainly out of control – loud, restless, incoherent, disruptive, fighting sporadically throughout the production. Why? It may well have been a reaction to the character, “Badjohn,” who was eye-catching, with a seemingly
untouchable, bigger-than-life demeanor. His body language exuded a quirky confidence, and his conspicuous silence was thunderous – a ‘nobody-is-to-mess-with-me’ attitude. Quite effective! (Hope this characterization is accurate.)
The singers, musicians, chorus girls and music kept the audience moving to the rhythm of the Caribbean beats. As part of audience participation, yours truly as a “Board Member” was invited on stage, for a brief moment, to join the villagers as they enjoyed the performers, small talk, soft drink, dessert. The audience seemed to enjoy the T&T picong brilliantly presented, with much pageantry, by our gifted calypsonians in the personalities of – Kurt Allen, Myron B and Allan Welch.
To bring another level of enjoyment, Black Stalin and Rikki Jai rendered signature performances, much to the audience’s delight, as we sang along to the familiar tunes. Then, there was a young fella, Adrain Jaikaran, on the steelpan, who skillfully played with two sticks in each hand. He was Remarkable!
“Rosie,” with her unforgettable red wig, the mistress of ceremonies extraordinaire, was very entertaining, mixing in with the characters, while keeping the sequences moving. She is quite a performer -- gyrating and all!
The “house” was brought “down” as the production culminated with the portrayal of tourists visiting the village, dancing to the sounds of Trinbago and the Caribbean. One tourist, bedecked in his Bermuda shorts, colourful shirt, straw hat, sunglasses too, was most charismatic -- moving ever so merrily, but exhibiting that all familiar ‘tourist’ offbeat jig. Our boy was having such a good time – completely unaware of being robbed of his cell-phone. That was not all, in the midst of true Caribbean revelry, this tourist’s wife had a near brawl with one of the disorderly thieving village women, who was getting too close -- hugging and kissing her husband. Bacchanal in the village!
The principle: – party time or no party time, tourist or no tourist, in Trinibago ‘yuh better mind yuh business.’
What an enjoyable production. We were all there -- present, no time to think about anything else! The performance ended in the courtyard as the cast joined the audience for a final jig, jump, laugh or selfie, if you desired.
This is a must-see production!
Take it on the road!
Mr. Allen, congratulations to you and your company for a well-thought- out, fantastically executed production. We look forward to many more.
P.S. How can I join you?
27 June 2014