Play Tings

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Jamaica has a long and rich theatre history, but for the last 50 years or so a popular genre of comedy play contentiously known as Roots Plays have been making Jamaicans laugh with their bawdy one-liners, constant sexual innuendos and shame and scandal soap opera plot-lines.

I had heard a lot about these kinds of plays (they’re almost as big as dances, which are bigger than anything, ever) so I made sure to check out Paul O. Beale’s smash hit The Plumber when it played at the Green Gables theatre house in Half Way Tree.

The single-backdrop production played out just like a Wilfred Limonious cover. A jealous policeman tries to catch his wife cheating with her daughter’s husband, while his dummy of a son and his ‘straight-from-country’ girlfriend try to catch a free ride under his roof. The characters were loud and boisterous and their movements large and flailing. As I said, just like a Limonious cover:

::”Nobody Move” by Yellowman, Volcano; “Watermelon man” by Horace Martin, Mr. Tipsy. Cover design: Wilfred Limonious::

A few weeks later, I was treated to watching a VHS copy of Ian Reid‘s “Jamaican hit play” Hataclaps at a friend’s house in the country and although not as funny as The Plumber, I kept an eye out for a DVD copy when I was back in Town. Well, it didn’t come as much of a surprise when I learned that Limonious was responsible for designing the video’s packaging. After digging a bit deeper, I came across a small handful of others plays that had been decorated by Limo, with Hataclaps and Fire Ina Yuh Wire being the easiest ones to pull from the internet.

::Fire Ina Yuh Wire and Hataclaps, produced by Ian Reid. Illustrations: Wilfred Limonious::

True, not his most polished or exciting work, but still nice to see. For more information on Jamaican plays, check this site.

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