Thursday, April 2, 2015

Performing Arts: The Journey of "Doodu-san" from Pit to Peace

At no age or stage in life would most human beings contemplate or envisage the consequences of falling chest deep into a pit latrine (think faeces, toilet paper and giant cockroaches and rats).

Little wonder then that Stefhen (no longer Stephen, he remade himself even a his father worked on a "replacement" ) Bryan has a certain skew on life: he lived through just such a nightmarish ordeal while still in what we refer to as "short pants,"

That rude entry into life's potential for adversity became the opener and theme for his excellent and mostly compelling one-man show, "Doodu Boy" (doodu of course being slang for feces) which had a special one-night only preview performance at New Kingston's Theatre Place.

In that well-executed piece we meet young Steve, the typically curious, hyper-imaginative young Jamaican kid mired in poverty and at the mercy of an overbearing, Scripture-quoting mother with a more than free hand when it comes to dishing out beatings to her son.

The situation is of course so dire that Steve has violent fantasies of killing his mother and moving to "'Merica" to live with his absentee Dad. that latter dream eventually comes true at age 15, but the underside of Steve's American Dream and "life in Paradise" comes up all too quickly as he discovers that his father, a mercurial, materialistic yet somehow successful engineer, was even more disdainful of him than his mother.

Faced with this greatest rejection, Bryan heads west, first to family in Denver Colorado and then on to California, where a latent predilection for Oriental women is given  free rein and expression - much of which ends up in his book "Black Passenger, Yellow Cabs" (check back in a couple days for our review of the book).

When an attempt to visit his father for a reconciliation goes awry - his father calls the cops and reveals that he has in fact, fathered another son - to whom he has also given the name "Stephen" - the crushed Bryan responds to a call to teach Japan.

There, he furthers his own education in Oriental delights, but also learns the language and  - as is often the way of such things - falls in love. Even this is an occasion for Jamaican-style bawdiness, as the love of his life is revealed to him as the first girl with whom sex is - for a lengthy initial period anyway -impossible, owing to what he describes as her "monster hymen."

In the wake of losing his mother to cancer (after an intervening heart to heart of sorts while on a home spell), Steve, with his new wife, attempts one last bid to reconcile with his Dad. The latter proves taciturn to the end, but two strokes, and the travails of loneliness (the younger "Steve" has since grown and moved out) have softened him to the point where even an awkward conversation is possible.

Bryan's stage presence and visual communication skills are highly evolved and his total lack of self-consciousness while sharing details which might floor lesser mortals make the play a very engaging experience, one which even Jmaaicans, accustomed tothe ensemble presentation, will be held rapt by

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