We know how vexing it can be trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ and one fictional family, soon to take to the stage, know all about it.
Bermuda playwright Patricia Pogson-Nesbitt is back with the second part of her trilogy which began last October with Don’t Talk To Me Like That.
Keep It Up, coming to City Hall this week, tells the story of the Joneses whose educated children are causing friction in the household. Their father Eddie, who lost his job and turned into a drunk, had an affair and two new children, Sia and Norman, were born into the family. His wife Elmira will not grant him a divorce and eventually the new, less educated children move into the household — much to the dismay of their spoiled, elder children Christopher and Mildred.
The younger sister Sia may be “street” and a little bit ghetto but she has words of wisdom that Mildred, educated at law school, and Norman, educated at med school, could certainly learn a thing or two from.
Speaking to the Bermuda Sun, Pogson-Nesbitt said: “Here’s this family, which, at the outset, looks like a tight family.
“There are a lot of messages in the play and one is that no matter what happens in a family you should really try to work things out because at the end of the day that is all you have.
“It is very powerful for women — here is a girl who is very ghetto and giving some very profound advice to women who may not listen to her but she makes sense.”
It sounds a little serious but Pogson-Nesbitt promises there will be a laugh a minute. Many of the characters, including the parents and the younger children, are played by comedy brother and sister act Nishanthi and Nadanja Bailey.
“The humour is in the writing,” she said. “What makes it fun is that Nishanthi and Nadanja are so talented in the way they play the different characters. Nadanja being a stand up comedian has a lot of understanding about the meaning of words and how to play on them. Where he studied he learned to listen and answer. He’s a good listener and he doesn’t think about his responses. That is the power behind the play — every night will be different as he improvs quite a bit. The cast has to be prepared for what he does. It keeps the play fresh and new and there is nothing that he has ever said that did not get a huge laugh. He’s a brilliant actor.”
Keep It Up is part of a trilogy that the Baileys asked Pogson-Nesbitt to write for them. The plays includes characters from Pogson-Nesbitt’s previous stage productions — Norman is a character from a series called She’s Got Issues, while Sia starred in her play Sia Says.
Pogson-Nesbitt is head of the art department at CedarBridge and the play will also feature young children who are embarking on their first professional play.
For Pogson-Nesbitt’s well-known plays the Phat Girl Series Nadanja played the drunk dad Eddie.
“We wanted to combine all these characters in this new trilogy,” said Pogson-Nesbitt.
The play also includes Rhonda Daniels as Grandma Flossie, Sharise Clarke as Mildred, Roddy Nesbitt as Christopher and Mitchell ‘Live Wires’ Trott.
Asked how the second play in the series compared to the first, Pogson-Nesbitt said: “This play has more monologues. As a playwright, when you think about story development, you are looking at how the characters change — how they are moving forward. I felt it needed a bit more meat this time.”
Pogson-Nesbitt has a long history working as a playwright in Bermuda.
She was formerly the director/co-producer for Jabulani Repertory Company out of Hamilton Princess and used to direct four shows at a time for the Gazebo Lounge.