The Calm After the Storm is an original play from Kingdom Arts and Performances that attempts to delve into the complexities of the relationship between man and woman within (and outside) the tradition of marriage at various stages. It primarily follows the dynamic between Eric, and hard-working husband in his 30’s and Ann-Marie, his long-time sweetheart and wife of ten years. From the opening scene the tension between them is palpable. To us, it seems like their marriage has already run its course and they are at the precipice of calling it quits.
Among the other stories being told is that of Richard and Chantelle; young lovers who are preparing to step into their new marital life, but outside factors (in more ways than one) threaten to undo the fabric of their relationship. We also follow Jude, a playboy superstar and owner of a successful niterie whose free spirit has landed him in a messy divorce with his wife.
The playwright endeavors to tell an endearing story about love, trust and battling against adversity, but among the various elements working against it, the biggest was time. The play runs for approximately two hours and thirty minutes; first and second act broken up by a twenty-minute intermission. While time isn’t the determining factor on what audiences can sit through, the content and writing makes the play seem labored. The playwright attempts to tell six different and seemingly multifaceted romances, but a lack of succinct and expressive writing leaves a surface telling of each relationship. Many secondary characters introduced at different segments serve little purpose other than to ruffle feathers and garner snappy, vocal opinions from the audience and they eventually fade (quite literally) into the background. The dialogue also tends to, at times, go from one extreme to the next, leaving the audience with the question of “how did they get to this point?” more often than not.
The story also strongly holds to the accustomed (if not tired) tropes of men as being worthless, insensitive, sex-driven dogs afraid of commitment and women being little more than additions to their husbands who are ultimately unhappy and unfulfilled if not serving a specific role in a marriage. There are moments where the writing tries to diverge from this expected narrative, but again due to wanting to tell too many stories, it shied away from any significant attempt to expose the deeper humanity of the interaction between men and women in long lasting relationships. At one point the dialogue turns into a berating game to show which sex has the most faults.
With all that being said, there were certain gems throughout the play where writing and acting made for great entertainment. Cyntra, Jude’s feisty divorce lawyer and long-time best friend does a very commendable job of delivering fresh and timely comedy, providing brief respite from some of the weighted topics of the play.
Ann-Marie’s sister Lana sits well in the “too fass fuh yuh own good” role, providing a counter rationale to her sister while giving us witty one-liners to add to our vocabulary. There is also a particular scene at the top of the second act that provides the recognizable snippy banter between husband and wife reminiscent of the days of Calabash Alley. There are many hilarious one-liner takeaways from many of the characters that have the audience rolling with laughter.
All in all, there was much potential for a solid story, but a lack of editing, underdeveloped writing and a need for complexity among other things made the story about the effects of marriage and long-term relationships on men and women fall flat.
The Calm After the Storm opened at the Naparima Bowl on Friday 26th August 2016 and will continue until Sunday 28th August 2016. CLICK HERE for more info.
The Author attended the performance on Friday 26th August 2016
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Isaiah is a graduate of the Musical and Dramatic Academy of New York and is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association through its Equity Membership Candidate Program. He is also a member of The Gentlemen; a hip hop dance group based in San Fernando. He has performed extensively in musicals both local and internationally. Credits include West Side Story (Fireside Dinner Theatre), Chicago (Potsdam Music Theatre) and Crazy For You (Queen’s Hall).