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FringeReview Scotland 2014


Manifesto Jamaica

Genre: Drama



Low Down

We are introduced, through the rhymes of a guide to the orphanage where some extra ordinary orphans are based. Within these walls and trips to the school they show they have no limits in terms of creativity until the box filled with their past is opened. 15 years later they reunite and they realise that they have achieved. 


We start with a golden tracksuited guide entering and telling us of the orphanage into which we are being taken. From there the orphans and their “mother” takes us through their days, hopes and dreams with dance, music and tremendous wit. We see them at play, at school, punished at work and then when the orphanage’s leader is diverted to the hospital her orphan in charge cannot stop herself being involved in the games being played. It leads to a crash as the box they have been told not to touch is broken. Out pours mementoes from their past and as the “mother” returns she tells them she was always going to show them the remnants of their fathers’ pasts. Comforted as she goes round the orphans leave the stage to return as their future selves. They are all successful and we can all share their end song.

The acoustics within the venue made some of this hard to decipher as the very heavy accents were heavily used. Having said that there was nothing misunderstood as the acting caught the narrative square on. It was a simple story that was very well told.

I think that the acting was fantastic though I have to question why an able bodied actor was playing someone with cerebral palsy when they don’t have that condition. Now I am happy that, as there was unlikely to be a CP actor available to them and they wanted to show the diversity of orphans whilst also making the CP orphan as successful as the rest, that there is a legitimate reason for this. However a Scottish youth theatre making the same theatrical decision would not escape so lightly.

It was a huge colourful production though it had few colours within it. It just had vibrancy from every pore. The music was apt though scene changes were a little laborious. I would make them in full view of the audience in future and work out how to use their undoubted physical and dance abilities to make things slicker.  

I just bounced out of this. The ending was a little too happy for me but for once, not having a character descend into a hell hole just seemed right. To have become a positive legacy from a troubled past was a journey that we shared with these 6 teenage orphans with equal joy to that which they told the stories.

Like those around me we applauded long and hard as the performers gave their all; I could have stayed on for more. 


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