Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Thursday | January 31, 2013
Home : Commentary
'Dangerous Ambitions' - No play matter
By Devon Dick

EVERY YEAR
, leading playwright, Basil Dawkins, invites me to watch his play and to offer critical comments. It is, therefore, not surprising that in the brochure Dawkins writes, "talk to us, don't tell us what you like - tell us what you don't like as well. Do not tell us what you think we want to hear, tell us the truth directly ... ." Dawkins is open to critical comments and displays a willingness to change the script based on reasonable comments. I encourage all to attend and make their critical comments.

Dangerous Ambitions is what I would call a historical play, in that it is located in a political historical event, namely, the extradition of a don and its impact on the political landscape. It reveals the context and significant events of the time though it is not a revue.

This play is different from other Dawkins plays in which we saw the women in leading roles and having very strong characters. Last year, Nadeen Rawlins gave a strong performance in a play which dealt with sexual abuse and the uptown/downtown divide.

Good acting

This is not to say celebrated actress Maylynne Lowe, as Miss Alexia, did not give an excellent depiction of an uptown businesswoman operating a successful business in a downtown community in spite of her having a 'good for nothing man', Rory Baugh, as Mr Vinton McFayden.

In this play, the main character was George Howard as Elder. This appears as a dangerous direction since he is the author of playing on persons' dangerous ambitions as he used selfless and sacred language to advance his cause.

The play is about dangerous ambitions and no character is exempt from this fatal flaw. Not celebrated comedian, Volier Johnson as Sarge; not Christopher McFarlane as Coach. This storyline seems to have been influenced by the Gleaner editorial which have been labelling the members of parliament as belonging to 'gangs'. It seems that Dawkins, in an hilarious and entertaining way, is sending a serious message, of warning Jamaicans of the dangers of ambition when corrupted by dons, even those who carry the New Testament and use religious language to hide their ominous motives. It requires the audience to reflect on where Jamaica is and where we are heading. It highlights the corruption in business, police force, community development officers, sports, etc. He points us to the dangers of a police force being in the pocket of a don and consequently turning a 'blind eye'. No play is complete without man and woman relationship problems and Dawkins does not disappoint.

No good guys

Furthermore, Dawkins had an interesting twist of who became the member of parliament. I was expecting a certain turn of events but the play took a dangerous turn in the election of the MP. This play could even be seen as tragic in that there are no good guys; no redeeming personality, just a serious slide into the abyss while there is merrymaking. Is this a warning that we are in a similar time as Noah, or while Rome is burning the Emperor is fiddling his thumb? Are citizens unaware of the dangerous ambitions that are motivating persons?

It is said that ambition killed Caesar, and Dawkins obviously was also influenced by this Shakespearean theme. He ends the play with a question which is unusual but effective, though dangerous. It's as if Dawkins is asking each theatregoer to answer the question rather than he being preachy.

Dangerous Ambitions is a commentary on our serious societal issues and no play, but calls for serious reflection and action after the laughter has died down.

Rev Dr Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'From Rebellion to Riot', and 'The Cross and the Machete'. Send comments to columns@gleanerjm.com.

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