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A CurtainUp Review
By Julia Furay
This one-hander, written and performed by Jamaica native Debra Ehrhardt, is apparently based on the true story of her escape to United States as a young woman. Without much in the way of scenic props, Ehrhardt traces her longing to come to the United States since she was a girl, and then recounts the adventures that eventually got her here. Along the way she recreates the colorful characters that surrounded her in Jamaica, and the political instability that made her want to leave in the first place.
The first half of this solo play feels like a typical coming-of-age story, but the second half turns into something quite different: Ehrhardt's escape to the States features spies, smuggling, plot twists, bad guys and a suitcase full of cash. It strains credulity, but it's certainly exciting.
The performance is a little rough around the edges. Always appealing and charismatic when playing herself, Ehrhardt is less confident when she's playing other characters. Her many roles— which include her parents, her CIA boyfriend, and her childhood best friend — feel more like exaggerated types than real people. Director Wallace Norman would have done well to help her find more nuance in these characters.
That said, Ehrhardt's charm as a storyteller is unwavering. At the performance I attended, the audience (many of whom seemed to themselves be Jamaicans from the sound of it) roared at her insights into Jamaican idiosyncrasies. And Ehrhardt's enormous smile, expressive face and chatty manner keeps everyone engaged throughout. Charm compensates for whatever Jamaica, Farewell lacks in sophistication, which is why it's such a lovely escape.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
The Playbill Broadway YearBook
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide