Fri | Apr 10, 2020

‘Hidden Intentions’ picks up after slow start

Published:Monday | October 28, 2019 | 12:27 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
From left: Dave (Andrew Jones), Lilly (Stacy Morgan-Duvalier and Billy (Arthur Allen).
From left: Dave (Andrew Jones), Lilly (Stacy Morgan-Duvalier and Billy (Arthur Allen).

Freedom Ministry, through their Dramafest season of plays, returned to the Phoenix Theatre on Haining Road, New Kingston, with three productions. The second of the weekend fest was Paula Thompson’s Hidden Intentions.

Hidden Intentions falls into the genre of theatre of the absurd. Its slowly developed plot that meanders around a number of twists and turns, spotlights the controversial pro-choice versus pro-life movement through the prism of a love triangle. Thompson also satirises the complexity of human beings in a script loaded with deceptions.

Lilly (Stacy Morgan-Duvalier), a student nurse, is involved in a love triangle. She becomes pregnant and uses cliché reasons for wanting to have an abortion. Ironically, the men – Dave (Andrew Jones) and Billy (Arthur Allen) – are pro-life, and are against Lilly’s decision. Each for a different reason.

As the story progresses, the playwright, craftily, injects a miscarriage. The experience forces Lilly to come to terms with the fact that her initial decision carries consequences. The play ends with another twist and, ultimately, the player is being played.

But a successful production is more than a great message. Other elements are involved, and those are the areas that cast and crew are tested on.

The characters coming to life was entrusted to Morgan-Duvalier, Allen, Jones and Thompson as Pauline, Dave’s wife.

Like the plot, Morgan-Duvalier, Allen and Jones got off to a tentative start, challenging the patience of the audience. Nevertheless, in the second act, when the pace of the plot picked up, so did their acting. Their lines flowed more convincingly, and the transition from one emotion to the other improved.

Morgan-Duvalier played the more complex and very selfish Lilly with some believability. So it was with Allen, who generated more laughter and sympathy as Billy, the kind-hearted country Malaprop. Jones played the staid but deceptive Dave with tremendous success.

However, in his role as director, he and co-director Thompson were not so successful. Blocking the play with intelligence and imagination was a challenge for both. Stage right was seldom used, while centre stage and down stage centre were over used. Also, there was an absence of stage business. This would have helped to establish a relationship between the characters and their set.

It was A-plus for the costume department, though. All characters were well costumed, appropriately reflecting their status and personalities. It was through costumes that the passage of time was established. This, in spite of the pair of red shoes left in the same place for several days, which may be a very untidy Lilly or sloppy stage management.

The live music during scenes and as pre-show was excellent, but not the lighting. The latter could have been simply designed to establish not only a new day but the time of day and mood of the scenes.

Nonetheless, Hidden Intentions was worth seeing. The playwright was able to communicate a message that means a lot to the Christian community without being preachy while tapping on the emotions.