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TWO CAN PLAY Begins at New Federal Theatre February 27


TWO CAN PLAY Begins at New Federal Theatre February 27

From February 27 to April 5, Woodie King, Jr.'s New Federal Theatre will celebrate both Black History Month and Women's History Month with an Off-Broadway production of "Two Can Play" by Trevor Rhone, directed by Clinton Turner Davis, at Castillo Theater, 543 West 42nd Street.

In this two-act comedy, Gloria and Jim, a lower middle-class couple in Kingston, try their wildest schemes to escape gun crime and establish residence in the United States. They survive because they learn to communicate and rediscover each other. Playwright Trevor Rhone was the artistic giant of Jamaican theater. The play celebrates the pent-up need for self-discovery and personal development in Jamaican women, a theme which is also universal. Director is Clinton Turner Davis, who helmed the comedy's New York premiere in 1985.

The play was chosen for production by New Federal Theatre after it opened the company's Ntozake Shange November Readings Series in 2018. That series is devoted to brilliant one- and two-character plays, a dramatic form that most theaters neglect. It is used to develop African American writers and to select plays that New Federal Theatre may present as full productions in future seasons. The reading was directed by Clinton Turner Davis. Its actors, Michael Rogers and Joyce Sylvester, return for this production.

"Two Can Play" is considered a masterpiece of dramatic realism. In Rollington Town, a neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaica, Gloria and Jim are caring for his dying father while sheltering from unceasing gunfire and civil conflict. Their marriage is typically Jamaican: the husband is domineering; the wife is submissive and ripe for liberation. Their three children have been smuggled into the USA "to better themselves." After the old man dies and is buried amid a dangerous shootout between a civil faction and the police, Gloria and Jim resolve to seek better lives in America. They develop a complex and delightfully crooked scheme to obtain permanent visas: Gloria will legally divorce Jim, marry a US citizen, and then having obtained a visa, will divorce her new husband and remarry Jim.

Gloria wins in the first part of her assignment, but Jim is the loser. Through the confusions and hardships she meets in the US, she becomes assured in her in her own self-sufficiency and resourcefulness. The man she marries is honorable and respectful toward her. When she returns to Kingston from her new marriage, she has been emancipated by her journey of self-discovery. She holds all the cards in the marital power struggle now and Jim faces a seemingly intractable conundrum of how to win her back. Their marriage, previously one of domination for him and struggle for her, is now leveled. Their reconciliation scene at the end of the play--despair leading to eventual re-discovery of each other--is regarded as one of the most moving episodes in Jamaican drama.

Rhone's dialogue is compact and colorful and his characters are funny. They are deliciously Jamaican, their humor is a well-known means of survival and their problems are bound to elicit laughs of deep recognition in all cultures. When "Two Can Play" was introduced to New York audiences in 1985 by The Negro Ensemble Company, with Clinton Turner Davis directing, The New York Times (Mel Gussow) called it "a boisterous two-character farce guaranteed to make theatergoers cheer the awakening wife."

Buy tickets at: and, 866-811-4111.

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