Carnival Medea offers a new high

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By Pauline Mark (Originally published to Life in Trini Chocolate 11/02/2017)

Carnival Medea is a local, theatrical production starring Tishanna Williams as the title character, as well as Penelope Spencer, Cecilia Salazar, Marie Chan-Durity and Susan Hannays Abraham. It is a modern, “Trini”, retelling of the Greek classic, Medea of Euripedes and runs from the 9th-19th February 2017 and resumes on the 2nd March, until the 5th.

The production features beautiful costumes, hypnotic drumming, dexterous dance moves and bombastic and verbose speeches and dialogue. The artistic direction is paramount; with all elements falling into play nicely and clearly conveying the look and aesthetic of Carnival. The irony comes full circle as those with historical knowledge know that our Carnival has a Greek connection. Many facets of local culture are delicately woven into the fabric of this production. Including the much-enjoyed and lauded “Macomeres” who reflect societal views and rationality. However, the sweet twist is that they also reflect different women of socio-ethnic realities within the Trinbagonian social fabric.

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The Macomeres | Photo credit: Maria Nunes

At one point, I realised that all four actresses are former Westwood Park cast members, and as God is my witness I closed my eyes and saw Vashti and all the ladies there… back on the tele, circa 1999. This magical theatre moment was heightened by the fact that right in front of me (at the centre and front of house) sat Danielle Dieffenthaller and Mervyn de Goeas; Westwood Park Director and Writer respectively. Next to them was another cast member, Raymond Choo Kong. You can’t make this kind of voodoo up….it just happens.

I laughed, I wanted to cry and at times I became pensively nostalgic. Stand out performances include the aforementioned Macomeres who just kept the humour rolling and made great use of the stage in their ornate Victorian-esque Dame Lorraine attire; each of a different colour to add clarity to the persona of the individual commesse maker.

Beautiful dancing by Michael Mortley and Christopher Sheppard who had intricate work to do with props. However, my favourite for the night was Joseph Jomo Pierre who was “everything”. I had never seen or heard of the actor before, but I will remember his name (Fame…Debbie Alleyne never lie). He was so damn good I became concerned for his health. The truth emanating from his entire body and spirit when he gives that speech to Medea, after she has enacted her revenge is mind blowing. However, nothing compares to that scream he gives in the end (“ahhhhhhhrrrr”). If only I had a sound byte. It was the scream heard around the world; the scream of pain, lunacy and the heat of the Carnival, a scream to end all noise and take its bearer and listeners to their graves. The howl of the werewolf and the cries of the banshees want nothing on it. I could not believe a human could make such a noise. I lovvvvvvvvvvved it!!!!!! Excellent work by leading lady, Tishanna Williams who delivers a lot of wordy dialogue with conviction and poise and is regal and beautiful in her blood red costume as the scorned and equally conflicted Medea.

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Joseph Jomo Pierre (Jason) and Tishanna Williams (Medea) | Photo Credit: Maria Nunes
After watching La La Land and Moonlight, I have been on a lot of creative and spiritual crack and Carnival Medea offered a new high. The street procession at the end, which signaled the close of Carnival; that hunting period when the reign of the merry Monarch has come to a close, made the hair on my arms stand. Suddenly, I think of something as inane as Nicki Minaj’s Pound De Alarm music video; the end where she walks through the street at Carnival,ominously, while all the debris and fluff of the parade is lying there (once decorative, now garbage). Then images from the film Black Orpheus come to mind and the Greek connection comes full circle. Art, history, diaspora and culture. It is clear; Carnival Medea will be a classic because it is able to make one think of the old, the new, the future, the sacred, the profane and the perfunctory. An amazing production, magnificently directed by cultural legend Rhoma Spencer and brought to life by a versed, committed team of theatre practitioners. If you do not go and see this play, then you will not really experience Carnival 2017! Nuff said.
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