UWI’s latest National Hero saga “The Betrayal” an eye-opener: 1937 Bridgetown was not far from 2001 Baghdad


{CLICK FOR BIGGER} Adzil Stuart next to his handiwork, making Collette Applewhaite look as though she was President of the Chris Brown Fan Club

Still trying to understand why Clement Payne’s story was called “The Betrayal“? Was it Menzies? He appeared too conciliatory… Or was it that Beverley Best was forced to give information? I was almost in tears towards the end of the play on the brief stark influence of Clement Payne, until this dramatic re-enactment I had no idea such vicious torture was concomitant to the attempt at quelling the uprisings 74 years ago. The hoods over the rebels reminded me of the Abu Ghraib degradation as shown by media all over the world now swept under the rug ’til it comes back to bite us in the butt when we least expect it. The make-up is extremely convincing, if there was a Bajan Oscar for Special Effects then Adzil Stuart more than deserves it!

Collette Applewhaite as the embattled Beverley Best and Major John Morodore as the “articulated interrogator” who asks questions on the Movement and feels getting results is like pulling teeth!

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} "Articulated Interrogation" is the euphemism which the CIA uses to expain away Torture - here the Commandant of the Regiment seeks names and locations of those who follow Clement Payne

Nevertheless, the whole structure of the play led me to think how even though what elapsed was almost a century ago, it still has much bearing now… Barbados is under a 21st century version of Animal Farm, where the farmer may have left but he’s replaced by pigs – or in our case, the colonial whites have been replaced by a black public sector and a regime which feel they can herd those who remain like a pack of muddy swine? Perhaps the time has come to Occupy: Broad Street, Speightstown, Oistins and even Cave Hill? How far is 1937 from 2037?

The play was very well written this time around, no turgidity – very pacy instead and highly educational while exciting! One can easily understand why Government, both British and local were terrified of Clement Payne, who came and did what he sought to do, raise the consciousness of Bajans and change the way people can vote and live…

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} "Educate, Agitate but not Violate" Here, Field/Payne seeks to calm down Beverley Best and Israel Lovell, who suggest armament may not be so bad

Was it not an objection to the status of being 99% who feed the 1% even those seven decades ago? Merchants and utilities from now may be viewed as how the British were then… It is not too late to readjust profits and allow everyone to have a breathing space financially, Barbados is under a wage freeze in all but name – there has been no public nor private wage increase since approximately 2009!

To give you an idea of the impact this play had on me? I keep referring to it as a movie or film when speaking to people and telling them to go and watch it (4th December is last night for this Drama), it was so vivid and powerful that it went beyond live acting, it was Life In Action!


Let’s look at where we were surprised for performances – Simon Alleyne had an opportunity to shine as Hilton Vaughn the socially conscious businessman for the downtrodden blacks of Bajans in the 30’s… Yet it seemed he allowed his portrayal to be overshadowed by the powerhouse deliveries of Patrick Foster and Dy Browne as the British Governor and Ernest Deighton Mottley respectively. Patrick plays ‘Donald’ Young, a pompous diplomat at the end of his career hoping for a sinecure with Barbados; Dyestra (as Dy’s full name is) played the ultra-conventional Mayor of Bridgetown who was angered at this uppity Payne for upsetting the apple cart.

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} L to R: Simon Alleyne as Hilton Vaughn; Kaye Foster as Belinda Higgins; Patrick Foster as Governor "Donald" Young & Dy Browne as Ernest Deighton Mottley

Dy even mentioned to me while the play portrayed his character one way, when he spoke to people who remembered the erudite civil leader, they had fond recollections where he assisted them in dire need and made sure they had something on the table even in those harsh times – which is here all over again… The Governor is no longer from UK, yet just as pompous!

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} Israel Lovell (with pistol) seemed more like a Bajan Malcolm X, not the deejay here, but the miltant Human Rights activist who Spike Lee made a film of his Biography

Victor Clifford as the ferocious Israel Lovell, highly devoted lieutenant of Payne, was well cast, Victor also enjoyed his chance to interact with the audience – but I think patrons should have been told the reason there were songs listed in the Programme, was they were expected to sing along – the concept of Interactivity is brilliant and engenders the sympathy of the cause which the history was recounting.

Mr Modify was brought to life by poet Kenneth 'Jack' Lewis (background) while Marcia "Sarah Ann Gill" Ashby is seen here in foreground in one of the few parts of the play where she is not screaming or having a crying jag

Marcia Ashby as Adell Straker actually managed to act a little bit this time, even if it was the screaming role Margot Kidder had in the first Superman with Christopher Reeve, it was no “simpering condescension” like last time – it was grief for a man she did not expect to fall for… The hero of the play and National Hero in his own right, Clement Payne.

What about the title character? Clement was portrayed by Sean Field, who is a Barbadian constantly honing himself to seek world-class status as an actor, his talent runs from a military fast-food tout to a mechanic in US commercials (some of the best money to make) as well as having a major role in a popular sci-fi dramedy of webisodes – yet every thespian cannot source every role that falls their way…

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} Clement Payne's accent was sing-song but not overly so - yet does Sean Field have to get the Lead Role every time? What is the Audition process? Surely Barbados even has unknowns to source?

Did Sir Hilary consider Dy or Simon as the Trinidadian born of Bajan parents? Since Adzil Stuart crafted a wig for Sean Field to wear (styled and crafted to indeed resemble the photographs we have seen of the late Right Excellent Comrade Payne), could it not have been done for either? What about Adrian Green? With him, you would not even need the wig!

Leonardo DiCaprio tried to audition for the role of Batman’s Robin but was not accepted; Morgan Freeman was considered for Bagger Vance but Robert Redford decided to make all the lead parts younger and who can forget when Ronald Reagan turned down Rick Blaine for Casablanca?


In fact, if you recall Claude Rains as the Inspector in Casablanca who, in an effort to appease the occupying Nazis, instructs his Officers to round up the usual suspects… I recall it since the roles for the National Hero series seldom varies, what UWI needs to consider is new blood for the remainder if it is to be pursued to its ultimate gathering of ten.

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} Cast taking a worthy Curtain Call - many left quickly after the stage was dimmed, since there were no snacks at EBCCI

(Hey – why not be daring? Create an Eleventh Nat’l Hero play where all the characters review Barbados as it is now and if they had known how we’d waste it what would they have done instead?)

For instance, there’s Indra Rudder, Levi King, Varia Williams, Matthew Murrell, Adrian Green, Amanda Cumberbatch or Ishiaka O’Neal as new talent; as for veterans who have been on hiatus what about Juliet Evanson? She is one of the original Green Room Players and yet is still young and chirpy for mid-range roles which are not quite parent, leader nor child or youth…

Even moreso, being fully straightforward – how many young or mature white or even Hindu/Moslem Bajans have been approached to see if they would like to appear in dramatic productions? Patrick has his own Dramaworks to cultivate and Kaye Foster can only do so many British roles. Start casting from the very beginning, UWI should look to create programmes with Primary and Secondary institutions so a new generation of actors can be harvested.

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} Sir Hilary Beckles doing a good "YOU LIKE ME! YOU REALLY LIKE ME!" imitation, he did not have to adopt humble pie - the show was good and possibly the best written so far...

If it is truly Sir Hilary’s dream to craft these mini-bio’s of the National Heroes as films as he recently alluded to – then how do you arrange for the characters of one tale suddenly appear in another? What does it say for Continuity, especially if Barbados wants to show it is more than Hollywood or Bollywood?


Finally, while we have severe austerity measures for the country, I thought the catering or lack thereof beyond ridiculous for the Opening Night! Sure I can understand no Rum nor Vodka (Hilton Barbados is always cheap like that so strict on offering such beverages, even in time of plenty), but no Coke/Mauby nor Sprite for those who wished no Wine?

OK, for budgetary reasons – No hors d’oeuvres like fishcakes/shrimp or chicken wings, but OMG no cheese or tuna sandwiches? Not even Crix biscuits with some peanut butter rubbed on? Well the After Party was like dew at noon, scarce! There’s a difference between prudence and being cheap, if UWI’s looking for backers to make films of the plays, then they have to show they can do a li’l something…

{CLICK FOR BIGGER} The once dangerous & seditious comment of "THESE NIGHTS ARE FUNNY DAYS" (If you were caught saying it, a jail sentance was near mandatory in 1937) was ascribed to Clement Payne, yet "The Betrayal" made sure to instil the fact his compatriot 'Menzies' invented the catchy phrase which has held sway over the decades...

If no snacks nor non-alcoholic beverages then why should they waste money with such a wanna-be? Investors prefer dealing with people who offer Melmac trays and cups with simple foods rather than a person who is so miserly as to refuse even basic things like Coke or Juice…

It makes them uneasy and wonder if the beneficiary really got money, then what would they truly do with the fiscal support? Remember, Sir Hilary, one must spend money to make money, and UWI should know about image – ok?

One Response

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. There is no time for more sidelining of people as this play proved! There is certainly time for work from all political parties of this island, and time for love. If ignored more revolution will come!


add a comment

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.