BWW Reviews: Debra Ehrhardt's JAMAICA, FAREWELL Recounts How Her Dreams Turned Into Dangerous Reality
Perseverance and unshakable human spirit are the elements that fuel our impossible dreams to come true. Human beings have the ability to throw caution to the wind and work their way past fear and confusion to reach the pinnacle of success, be it in work, play, or love. But sometimes a careless step along the way can cost you more than you are willing to pay to attain your dreams.
Debra Ehrhardt's solo show JAMAICA FAREWELL has returned to the Santa Monica Playhouse after successful runs all over the world. It is based on a mostly true story about her journey to the U.S. from Jamaica in the turbulent 1970s of the Manley era.
The production is directed by Joel Zwick, recognized as one of Hollywood's more prolific directors of episodic television, and who directed the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Sharing his expert comedic timing with Ehrhardt keeps JAMAICA FAREWLL moving along at a lightening fact pace from episode to episode using only two chairs and several large blocks which represent a school room, podium, customs office, bedroom, a smelly bus, an airport, a lunch counter, a whorehouse, and many other locations along her way.
When Ehrhardt was an 18-year-old secretary in Kingston, she and her passion for America bumped into a handsome CIA agent over a bowl of oxtail soup. She decides to squeeze through the pinhole of opportunity with the help of this love-struck American, a diplomat who can walk through customs without being searched.
Her way out of Jamaica is blocked by many obstacles: an alcoholic father, a Bible-spouting mother, the price of airfare, roadside terrors, and U.S. government suspicions. Nevertheless, she begins a dangerous adventure that only the single-minded passion of a teenage girl would chance.
As the boundary between bravery and foolishness becomes blurred, she grows more desperate and finally agrees to smuggle a million dollars in cash to a mysterious contact somewhere in Miami, using the agent as her unwitting accomplice. Ehrhardt truly believes once she gets there, she will start a new life where anything is possible - just as her grandmother's former maid is now a college professor driving a red Mercedes.
Every person who crossed her path during her dangerous journey to freedom is played by NAACP Award winner Ehrhardt, an actress capable of amazing mimicry. This one-woman caper has generous dollops of humor, laughter and light to ease the horror she endured in her struggle to have the life she wanted. And Ehrhardt will keep you on the edge of your seat as she describes her fateful night driving to the airport on her way to escaping her dead-end life in Jamaica.
Could you have endured the horrors she faced along the way? I guess it depends on how much you value and believe in your dreams.
JAMAICA FAREWELL has been optioned for film by a major Hollywood producer.
Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St in Santa Monica
Saturday, 2/8 and 2/15 at 8:00
Saturday, 2/22 and 3/1 at 5:00 pm
Sunday, 2/9 and 2/16 at 3:00
Sunday 2/23 and 3/2 at 6:00 pm
Tickets are $35.00 and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006