Laughter and Hard Lessons Via “Two Can Play”

Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Trevor Rhone’s realism play, “Two Can Play,” directed by Clinton Turner Davis and produced by the New Federal Theatre under the aegis of Woodie King, Jr., keeps the audience in stitches at the Castillo Theatre, located at 543 West 42nd St., in Manhattan.

Set in Kingston, Jamaica. “Two Can Play,” has a distinctive Caribbean flavor and highlights the realities of its culture. Two cast members are in the play, Jim, the macho husband and Gloria, the subservient wife. Starring Michael Rogers and Joyce Sylvester.

The talent of these two are obvious from the start, they draw the audience in and keep them enraptured. Between laughter I heard some audience members comment how typical Jim is of the male dominance ofttimes seen in patriarchal cultures.

One is instantly struck by how ignorant and clueless Jim is and how long suffering Gloria is, yet she is the brains of the family as well as its heart and soul.  She has to sneak around to communicate with her children because for reasons only Jim understands Gloria is forbidden to write their children who are off in America attending school.  Meanwhile, Jim sneaks off to his mistress, lying to Gloria who is wise to his shenanigans. Despite his machismo, Jim does love Gloria, although he rarely shows or tells her.

Jim and Gloria have saved all their lives to buy their home and small plot of land but unfortunately there is civil unrest all around them and they are plagued with gunshots and night time curfews. It gets to the point the couple want to escape to a more peaceful environment and begin to plot the best and easiest way to leave the country. Although, Gloria is the brains, she is made subordinate by Jim who is entirely selfish and thinks only of himself. He eats up the food leaving none for Gloria and keeps the home in disarray expecting Gloria to clean up his mess. He relies on Gloria to do the thinking while pretending all the good ideas and plans are his own.

None of Gloria’s ideas are satisfactory to Jim until she tells him reluctantly that a lawyer she spoke to said if they could come up with money, they could divorce, pay for a fake marriage in America, and after a period of time, divorce their American partner and then bring their spouse to America where they could live in relative peace. Jim likes that idea. But as it turns out, it is Gloria whom the lawyer finds the American husband to marry. The divorce is finalized and Gloria heads off for America where she encounters good times and bad, racism, and respect and kindness from her new husband. The American husband sticks to the bargain while they co-habitate before authorities to prove their marriage is valid and not a sham (which of course, it is,  because Jim is waiting in the Caribbean).

Time passes and although tempted to stay since never before had Gloria known such respect and concern for her well being as she found possible with her American husband.  However, she and Jim have a history so she returns to Jamaica. Disappointed to find Jim in his laziness, has turned their home into a pig sty, not even bothering to clean up for Gloria’s return.  Unfortunately for Jim, Gloria’s discovery of how different men can be, changes her outlook and gives her a new found courage to demand better treatment from Jim. Jim, of course, immediately thinks sex will resolve the situation only to have Gloria tell him he has never satisfied her.  Not only because he  lacks consideration in sex but also via the way he treats her.

Jim is astonished by this new Gloria who informs Jim if he expects to remarry her, it better be a new dawn and new day wherein he gives her the respect she deserves.  Otherwise, she sees no need to remarry Jim. The tables turned, Jim realizes he has no power. He also realizes without Gloria he has nothing.  Thereby, Jim finds himself forced to examine his behavior, and in doing so, Jim realizes he must change. The couple realize that home is where the heart is and if Jim changes, no need to leave their home in the Caribbean.  Moving forward as equal partners they could withstand anything.

Two Can Play” while realistic, is amusing and a close examination of a culture, lifestyle and need for change. The way the couple work things out shows one need not always rush to separate when one has had a lifetime of togetherness. And togetherness, tempered with love and respect, makes it all worthwhile. This play demonstrates how some things should and must change, and how cooperation is well worth the investment.

You will enjoy “Two Can Play,” which runs at the Castillo Theatre until April 5th.









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