Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 31st 2014 Contents B45
August 31, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
SHIVANEE RAMLOCHAN reviews
Brendon O'Brien's Body Equals Barrier
Unbeknownst to you, the very forces of
Heaven and Hell could be engaged in a tussle
over the fate of your immortal soul and the
trajectory your mortal body tilts towards. Bren-
don O Brien s play, Body Equals Barrier, con-
cerns itself with spiritual warfare conducted
between angels and devils over the moral sus-
tenance of a young woman s being.
Presented by the the.art.IS Performing Arts
Co, Body Equals Barrier was staged at the
Little Carib Theatre on August 16. Written
and directed by O Brien, the play is protag-
onised by schoolgirl Angela (Aneka Audain),
who lives with her sanctimonious, Bible-toting
grandmother Eutrice (Tyker Phillips).
Angela struggles to be a decent girl above
reproach, yet is constantly goaded into offers
of weed-smoking, party-going and casual sex,
encouraged by her classmates James (Renaldo
Frederick), Cassie (Rhesa Samuel) and Dara
It s the supernatural agents battling for
Angela s destiny who were ultimately more
intriguing than her flesh and blood counter-
parts. Blue Devil (Reuel Warner) and Red Devil
(Nicholas Subero) squared off against the
Lord s scimitar-wielding, gold-epaulet wearing
Angel Aniel (Soler Phillips). The otherworldly
figures of the cast also included grunting min-
ions of Lucifer, who were allotted no lines,
but served commendably as both stagehands
and dramatic, mute backdrops in several scenes.
In a play so strenuously concerned with the
relentless struggle between dark desires and
luminous acts of salvation, lighting mattered.
Lighting designer Rene Tam Wing made judi-
cious use of spotlights on key speakers,
swathing the rest of the stage in darkness. It
was a sharp contrast that worked well, on a
basic symbolic level, to shore up those essential
differences between forces of good and evil.
Stage manager Alix Joseph, and set/prop
manager Kevin Julien suggested the domestic
familiarity of Angela and Eutrice s home with
a few well-chosen props: an assortment of
wicker furniture adorned with gaudily-uphol-
stered cushions, and a cloth-covered coffee
table, bearing only the Holy Bible in proud
Joseph and Julien s prop selection and place-
ment augured fortuitously in another pivotal
scene: one in which Angela regarded her body
with equal parts trepidation and sexual curios-
ity in the frame of a full-length mirror. The
mirror panel was conspicuously removed,
affording the audience the chance to see Angela
as she beheld herself.
Warner and Subero s Blue and Red Devils,
accoutered in subtly colour-coded, 1920s-era
Mafioso wear, provided some of the play s
best acting. Veering only occasionally into
dramatic heavy-handedness, Warner and
Subero were each other s best foils, embodying
one devil concerned with tormenting the mind,
and another consecrated to tempting the body.
Makeup artists Cydelle Crosby and Josianna
McAllister facially adorned the Devil actors
with patches of red and blue paint on opposite
sides of their cheeks. It was a subtle, deft
touch, and one that served to visually reinforce
the smooth-talking team s inherent duality.
Both devils commanded the scenes in which
they were presented, particularly shining in
their interactions with Soler Phillips prismat-
ically and sympathetically rendered Angel
Male heros; female harlots and virgins
Body Equals Barrier lost much of its ambi-
tious lustre swiftly when viewed beneath a
critical feminist lens. The play s harbingers
of justice and agents of autonomy were all
solidly, unquestionably male. There was a
way in which the play served up its own
hegemony onto the malleable, easily arche-
typed bodies of the women within it.
All female characters corresponded seam-
lessly into non-complex, unchallenging roles:
the teenaged harlot; the young and corruptible
virgin; the pious crone. O Brien s scriptwriting
suggested scant positive female energy for
which one might cast ballots of support,
though it hinted at augmented character
growth for Angela herself, in the life that
endures beyond the play s conclusion.
"I just here floating around in space!" cried
Angela plaintively during Body Equals Barrier s
climactic (and unnecessarily drawn-out) scene.
It s a sentiment that O Brien worked earnestly
to infuse into the rhetoric of his script: that
God leaves us vacant sometimes, though he
may send his angels to keep vigil over our
catastrophic lives---with indifferent grace.
The play frequently operated at cross-pur-
poses to its own driving and lofty aspirations,
purposing---as so many intellectually self-
involved works do---to say too much in multi-
languaged conversation with itself.
For all that, however, O Brien s endeavour
here was sharp, saying boldly some things
which would be a benediction to hear in
While choosing I am Malala: The Girl Who
Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the
Taliban for our Sunday Arts Section (SAS)
Book Club choice for September, it occurred
to me this was a good time to convince anyone
who is not yet in a book club to take the
Book clubs are for book lovers or bibliophiles
who enjoy reading and sharing the books they
love with friends. For those who don t read
regularly, a book club will do the trick to get
you back on the reading track.
Reading is relaxing, exciting and informative.
It also helps us to make important self-dis-
coveries. A book club means putting aside
two or three hours a month for meeting with
friends in order to discuss books. Even in the
busiest of schedules, that s really not much
of a sacrifice.
For those who insist they don t have the
time to get into their cars and drive to a book
club meeting one evening in the month, try
a lunch-time book club at work.
In an article titled The Lifelong Benefits of
Joining a Book Club, Hsin-Yi Cohen points
out some benefits that you might not associate
with book clubs. She says being a member of
a book club helps shy people to improve their
public speaking. It also helps people to appre-
ciate other cultures and others points of view.
"Reading groups with a rotating roster of
leaders means that everyone has a chance to
practise their leadership skills and the man-
agement of a group of people with different
backgrounds and opinions," says Cohen.
She also points out that aspiring writers
might get some good ideas from discussions
that feature so many varied opinions. (See the
Internet link below for more good reasons to
join a book club).
An article on the Canadian Living Web site
titled Ten Benefits of Joining a Book Club says
a book club can give you a break from your
busy life while it immerses you in stimulating
conversation. You meet new people in book
clubs and make new friends.
Delia Lloyd, an American writer based in
London, points out something quite interesting
in her article Five Reasons to Join a Book Club.
She says that some books just have to be dis-
cussed out loud. It s true. Some books have
various interpretations, and you could be miss-
ing out on a whole new experience---a whole
new level of understanding a book---if you
don t discuss it in a group.
Lloyd also points out there are many good
books out there that we wouldn t discover or
we wouldn t be willing to try if it wasn t for
that book club that stimulates our reading on
a whole new level.
I Am Malala... is an interesting challenge
for a book club because it raises many ques-
tions about children who have fame thrust
upon them. There will be lots to discuss in
this book, so join us on the SAS Book Club
group on Facebook.
Great reasons for a book club
BATTLE FOR A SOUL
Check out these Web sites for some interesting discussion on why book clubs are important
to our lives:
The Lifelong Benefits of Joining a Book Club
Ten Benefits of Joining a Book Club
http://www.canadianliving.com/ life/ community/ 10_benefits_of_joining_a_book_club.php
Five Reasons to Join a Book Club
FLASHBACK...Pakistani schoolgirl and
education activist Malala Yousafzai, upon her
arrival at Piarco International Airport for a
series of events hosted by UTT in July.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Links Archive August 30th 2014 September 1st 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page