Reviews - The Jamaica Gleaner (Date: December 21, 2003)
"Christopher Cum- Buck- Us" A Tale Of Two Cultures.
MORE THAN 500 years after Christopher Columbus claimed discovery rights to the New World, historians the world over especially in the Caribbean, have a totally different take on his story. Patrick Brown, award-winning playwright of Jambiz International Productions, has entered the
fray with his own interpretation, and has come up with "our" story, Christopher Cum-Buck-Us. The production will be launched Boxing Day, Friday, December 26, at the Centre Stage Theatre at 5:00 p.m. Mr. Brown said the tale of what-might-have-been when the two cultures clashed,
is a hilarious social commentary of Columbus, discovery of Jamaica and his experiences with the natives who reflect an interesting bunch of the different faces of Jamaica then and now all things good the productive, industrious, responsible, ambitious, discerning and some things not so good greedy, proliferous, chickeenry, "bag a mout" with no action."
Jamaica's King of Comedy, Oliver Samuels, rules supreme as Chief Running Belly, the Indian Chief/Cacique who is convinced that Columbus (Volier Johnson) "bleach his face" as his "neck back so black and face so white." Johnson also doubles up as Lashie the Chattie-Mouth African in the play.
Deceived by the Italian accent, the communication gap is glaring as Chief Running Belly is further startled to learn that Columbus claims to have arrived on two "sheeps" that swim very well and speak Spanish! In Christopher Cum-Buck-Us Brown throws the notion of the civilised world reflective only of First World countries totally to the wind, as Columbus' real discovery is that the natives are not so "backward" after all. The natives "shock him out" with their "cellie" phones as his attempts to barter and woo them over with "state-of-the-art technology" such as the first telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell goes to naught and his quest for gold leads him to the Mall and Tropical Jewellers in an uptown shopping centre. Much to Columbus' chagrin, his challenge for leadership for the island is met with the retort from the Chief that we "nuh duel fe Leadership we have election" and that elections are only called "when de time is right" albeit that time being "when de polls sey me a lead."
Punctuated with obeah, a taste of both cultures, a wide-eyed glimpse of current Jamaican and American politics, a stylised Jamaican "look-a-like" to Osama bin Laden and a dose of the recent "Califronia recall" thrown in for good measure, the tribes throw up their own candidate similar to the popular Arnold "Swarthy-Negro." The hungry belly natives tired of the "fenky fenky" leadership of Chief Running Belly finally succumb to the tastes of Italy and through a rigged election select the foreign Columbus as leader only to find that "the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side."
PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE
Mr. Brown says that this surreal type of theatre (where the past, the present and the future all merge into one and the audience is left wondering the era in which they find themselves) is a treatment rarely used in Jamaican theatre but that it is typical of Jambiz Productions. The play features faces familiar to Jambiz Productions, award-winning actor, Glen Campbell who doubles up as Grinning Goat the not too cute and not too brave Indian brave, and Sham the medicine man; Claudette Pious, the dim witted squaw; and Dahlia Harris as Smiling Rabbit the long-breasted and ever pregnant squaw. Tisha Duncan, a new member of the crew, alternates with Pious and Harris in their different roles. The award-winning production team includes Trevor Nairne, artistic director, Barbara McDaniel, choreographer and Jon Williams, musical director. The play runs throughout the holiday season playing daily, Mondays to Fridays at 8:00 p.m. and on weekends at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.