Jamaica Farewell

Had a pleasant nite in yester…downed a few cold beers, wrote for the blog and watched old episodes of SAPPHIRE AND STEEL.  

Oh, Joanna Lumley, you fetching master of time and space.

And okay, my blog readership is down like the second season ratings for TWIN PEAKS, I suppose because of my away time recently, but whatevah.  I’m in my groove right now and having a fine time.  And keeping busy!  I stayed home and wrote last night because it was my only free night for a little while…tomorrow I’ve got my eagerly anticipated volunteer orientation at the GCTC, work on tuesday, maybe a free movie at the Heart and Crown on wednesday (COLLISION, on Preston st…anyone interested?) .  And tonite…

Got an email from the Gladstone theatre folks last week, about a show coming to town for one day only.  That was enough to intrigue me, so I got my ticket nice and early and waited merrily.  Tonite was the night!  The show was one JAMAICA FAREWELL, by a lovely gal name of Debra Ehrhardt.  Yes, you know I’m a sucker for a one woman show, so I was naturally all over this one.  And a Jamaica-thmed show to boot?  After the two dandy Jamaica plays I caught at Summerworks (the clever comedy SAY GINGER ALE and political firestorm WORD! SOUND! POWAH!), this would make for a swell triple play.  After a dull Brunch-drudgery at the Clocktower, I was off.

There were two shows going on today…one at 2:30, and mine at 7:30.  I got there a bit ealry, watched the crowd slowly settle in…lamented the lack of any program (I loves my collectible theatre-stuff!), and downed the always reasonably-priced Corona at the Gladstone bar.   When we were let in, I was pretty excited.  Since I’d bought my ticket so early, I’d snagged my first ever front row seat at the Gladstone, and wanted to see what it was like.  Holy Comfy!   Folks, the front row at the Gladstone is a sweet, sweet ride, and I heartily recommend it. 

A kindly gent from the Ottawa Jamaican Community Association stepped ot to introduce the show then, and though he was a touch quiet, you could tell he was pretty proud of whatever it was we were about to see.  I like that sorta genuine vibe, on account of you dont see it enough.  He stepped off, and the lights went down.

Whn they came back up, Debra’s show began.  Telling the autobiographical tale of young Debbie Phillips growing up inKingston, Jamaica, and dreaming of a magical land far, far away…

Hint: it's not Canada.

Little Debbie is so smitten with the good old US of A her fav’rit song is YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.  She works hard to escape her lower class Jamaican life to America, but with little success.  Her Father’s gambling leaves her family with little cash, and her pious Mothercan only offer moral support.  Until the day a handsome CIA agent enters her life…

…and then, things go pretty crazy, to the point that upon reading Debra’s website bio afterwards I had to do a double take and say ‘Holy Shit, that really WAS a true story??’  Caught up in the political turmoil in Jamaica in the 70’s, Debra hatches a scheme to get out of Jamaica with her Agency beau, and, oh yeah, a million US in cash.  If she can just make it to Montego Bay (mind the potholes), escape the horrors of Pigeon Town, the advances of a villain dubbed ‘Lucifer’ and job offers from a cronish Madam.  And then there’s customs, of course…

All of this takes place over the course of damn near two hours, which is plenty for a lone woman on a stage with just a podium and two chairs as prop.  But Debra Ehrhardt could likely power a small city with her charm and talent alone, and she made the time fly by all too quickly.  She played at least a dozen different memorable characters with merry ease, and wrung enough laughs out of her audience to make most professional comics slit their wrists with envy.  All in the context of a comedy/adventure story so insane I STILL refuse to believe it’s true.  Although I really hope it is, because it would mean Debra is not only a phenomenal theatrical talent, she just might qualify for superhero to boot.

Sadly, as noted, this was the only day JF was playing in town.  Afterwards, it was hinted that maybe, MAYbe, we’d be able to coax her back to town sometime in the future, and I hope that’s the case.   She’d definitely be welcome.  I’m starting to really, really like Jamaican theatre…

The Visitor

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