Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 20th 2014 Contents A32
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Young thespian, Vedesh Nath, had director Errol
Sitahal s extraordinarily substantial shoes to fill
when he took the stage as "Rohan" in the UTT
Academy of the Performing Arts adaptation of
Marlene Nourbese Philips Coups and Calypsos at
Theatre 2, NAPA on April 26 and 27.
It had fallen to Sitahal, in a Toronto production
back in 1999, to present the flat and clichéd Rohan
as a credible character who is a remote casualty of
the events surrounding the 1990 coup d etat in
T&T, active participant in a failed marriage and a
by-product of the devastating impact of ethnic ten-
sions in the country.
In 2014, it was Nath s turn to engage the emotional
roller-coaster that is a character who is fed lines
that sound vaguely familiar but are hardly memorable
in any serious way. It must have been Sitahal s own
interjections of comedic timing and colourful lan-
guage, evoking shocked chuckles in the audience
that saved the day for both Nath and Rohan.
If The Wolf of Wall Street was Hollywood s front-
runner for the cussword award, Coups and Calypsos
would be its local equivalent. Had it been at Central
Stage back in the 1980s, any policeman on the stage
would have been on duty with handcuffs.
Chris-Ann Graham s almost flawless portrayal of
Rohan s former wife, Elvira, was impressive and
also contributed to the salvation of a play, described
by one knowledgeable wag, as "drama written like
a school essay." It s a cruel verdict on the work of
one of the country s leading literary lights, but not
a dishonest one.
It might be that the preachy, convoluted and
affected lines of Coups and Calypsos provide the
ultimate test in the UTT examiner s repertoire of
student assessments, but Sitahal s saving hands are
evident throughout the hour-long play which earned
him a Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts Dora
Award nomination for Best Male Performance in
Graham, however, embraced the challenge with
grace and charm. She is a special talent whose place
on the stage is assured for a long time to come. As
Afro-Trinidadian medical doctor, Elvira, she plays
the conflicted ex-wife of Rohan, an Indo-Trinidadian
professor with English roots.
By sheer chance, the two are re-united when
Elvira s flight is cancelled as a result of the curfew
brought about by the coup. It is clear that Rohan
and Elvira still have strong feelings for each other
and, in fact, re-capture some passionate moments
of the past. But, lingering memories of disapproving
family and friends over the mixed-race relationship
and their own uncomfortable feelings on the issue
of race relations drive them apart and then draw
them closer to each other as the play progresses.
In the background, a radio plays calypsoes and
there are intermittent news reports of looting, vio-
lence and mayhem in Port-of-Spain as the coup
It is, eventually, an enraged Rohan who smashes
the radio in an attempt to break the invisible link
between the violence on the streets, the calypsoes
being played and the undulations of a love gone
wrong. It is a turning point that signals the end.
The play takes on a much darker texture from that
moment and it is managed with skill by Nath and
Here are two promising, young actors who
responded well under the guidance of one of the
country s most accomplished theatre personalities.
Coups and Calypsos did not provide them with the
best opportunity to display their talents and chal-
lenging conditions at the NAPA space did not help.
The production crew was supervised by veteran
Ed De Shae and Edwin Erminy, Al Mathurin and
UTT actors impress Academy of Performing Arts with
and Vedesh Nath
in Of Coups and
Coups and Calypsos
Daniella Walcott did well with the set design in the
cozy space in which they operated while stage man-
ager, Celeste Fortune, assisted by Tyler Peloi, did
a remarkable job.
Lighting design was by Mega Gill with assistance
from Rondelle Alleyne and Mikhail Mohammed
worked with Ronald George on sound.
Coups and Calypsos was a team effort with expert
direction and a credit to the work of UTT s per-
forming arts programme.
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