Hilariously dysfunctional Jamaican characters

Border Patrol Part Two

Review by Meegan Scott

Title Border Patrol Part Two
Playwright Andrea Wright
Co-directed byDavid Tulloch
StarringAndrea “Delcita” Wright
Final ShowSunday, June 4, 2017

The next time I am invited to attend a Jamaican Roots Play by Andrea “Delcita” Wright, I’ll buckle my seat belt, for there was nothing tame about Border Patrol Part Two (BPP2).

It was one mesmerizingly boisterous play that addressed very troubling social issues in Jamaica as well as in the Jamaican Diaspora.

Together with co-director David Tulloch, Delcita served up the promised bellyful of laughter plus seriously stirred consciences and taught life lessons.  Guffaw gave way to slower and more paced laughter as lines of serious thought rippled across cheek-bones in the audience.

The issues raised by BPP2 are those that make it difficult for Jamaicans to read the newspaper or to watch the news these days.  Among the tough conversations in which the play engaged its audience are mental health challenges, personality disorders, and problems affecting dysfunctional families that are the result of poor relationship choices.  As a Roots Play, BPP2 represents a uniquely Jamaican theatrical genre created in response to the need for theatre that is relevant to grassroots Jamaicans and one that speaks their language.  The final show for Canada the one I attended was held on June 4, 2017 at the Jamaican Canadian Association.

BPP2 is the story of Corporal Del (Andrea “Delcita” Wright), and her friend’s daughter— former prisoner Red Peas (Ruschiene Deidrick), and their individual grief, the mothers’ grief for the loss of a child which they share as well as their quest for love and marriage.

Wright plays the role of a woman police corporal who is pregnant for a prominent Superintendent of Police but suffers a miscarriage, becomes mentally ill and is discharged from the Force.  Red Peas is the mirror image of the next generation—that is Jamaica’s current parents— who seem unable to escape and so continues to make poor choices in relationships at a level that is intensified to the nth power. She is extremely callous and materialistic—she masks her low self-esteem with an unreasonable display of self-indulgence. She feels entitled and confident in her ability to snare and squander the resource of Chris J (Christopher McFarlane) because of her legacy—brown skin and a vagina.  A mindset that makes many Jamaican and Caribbean women of that hue especially vulnerable and culpable for their own sorrows and that of their children.

The need for families of sound mind that can fulfill the family functions as an economic decision-making unit that facilitates financial security and the efficient transfer of wealth between generations; educates the young; transfers wholesome values; protects against physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as provides intimacy and affection is the common need that is shared by every character in BPP2 as it is in real life. It is also the main theme of the play which could not be a more relevant or a more fitting Messenger for Break Free Family Centre who hosted the benefit performance of the BPP2 in an effort to raise funds for the transitional home for youths who are exiting Canada’s justice system and are challenged by addiction, mental health issues, and self-destructive behaviours.

The grasp of religion, awareness of higher ideals and the need for healthy functioning family and relationships is the commonality that binds different generations, characters and social classes in the play. The brutal hunger for real relationships and the unravelling of the relationships built on false security of the powers of sexual prowess, hue and the wallet compels the characters to listen the wisdom, reprimand and judgement of Delcita— recovered and back on the job in Act II.

The applause of the audience showed their love for Delcita (rated as Jamaica’s number one Comedienne); Ms. G (Deon Silvera, Jamaican Theatre Veteran); Chris J (Christopher McFarlane – billed as Jamaica’s leading male actor); Red Peas (Young actress, Ruschiene Deidrick); and Pastor (Gertrude Campbell-Fraser).

Most impressive is the fact that it moved the Roots Play to a place where laughs are not given for peas soup but a close balance to reality is maintained that immerses the audiences in unsettling scenarios – which forces one to dream while wide awake, as well as to stare into a well shined personal mirror on the subject of relationships, families, mental illness and social chaos. It also raises the importance of having financial and emotional support to overcome mental illness and debunks the Jamaican stereotype of the mentally ill as “ Eediats” [Idiots}, as Delcita cross wires between sanity and insanity. It is clear that Andrea Wright is on a mission to remove the stigma of the Roots Play even as it is kept as hilariously loud as Delcitaa!

Delcita was not short on Bon Mot and the rich use of the vernacular created the poignant images, hilarity and conscience stirs that only the Jamaican Patois and street talk can.

The plot came close to been unraveled where Chris J seems to be the half-brother of Red Peas and the parties are encouraged to strengthen the marriage that was null and void.

The Ska piece –  Madness -and the use of hymns to convey messages and mood brought heightened the credibility of the emotions and had the audience singing along. Stage issues with the door forced the Cast to be leverage their creativity in recognizing the 4th Wall and working with the prop.

The music was too loud at the start of the event and the microphone was sometimes inaudible.

The play, provides serious entertainment and education that could help Jamaican and Caribbean communities on the path to mending themselves.