The show is dub poetry, song, story, movement, history, and now.
by Beat Rice
Over the past few years I have seen the development of d’bi young’s work at readings, and now in 2011 the plays have come together in a trilogy. Last night the show opened with word.sound.powah! The other two plays, benu and blood.claat will run in repertory until December 4th. The time d’bi has taken to create and workshop each piece has definitely been worth the wait. The show is dub poetry, song, story, movement, history, and now.
d’bi is a pure storyteller. From the moment the lights go down she captures you and shows you these characters in Jamaica struggling for change and for their voices to be heard. Her energy and unrelenting commitment to every word, every movement, and every motion fill every corner of the small black box theatre. Some people may call this a one-woman show. It is so much more than that. d’bi performs accompanied by three musicians, but also engages the audience so much that we are also part of the story. As are the people whose story she is telling, and all the young people in Jamaica yearning for change. They are all present.
When you see d’bi perform, you are not just watching a show, you are experiencing it with every sense.
You do not need to be thoroughly knowledgeable about Jamaican history or politics to understand. Once you are introduced to each character and their story, you can piece together the circumstances in which they want to change.
The set, designed by the brilliant Camillia Koo, consists of twisted canvas ropes that make the tree. It starts upstage and branches out under the lights and above the heads of the audience to the back of the theatre. It creates wonderful shadows and texture to the space. Michelle Ramsay lit the show with bold, saturated colours, which appeared nicely on d’bi’s all white costume and the tree.
When you see d’bi perform, you are not just watching a show, you are experiencing it with every sense. You are compelled to chant with her, sing with her, and get up on your feet as soon as she asks you to. She is a gift to the performing arts in Canada, and I want to thank her, her team, and the Tarragon for a truly unforgettable experience.