Words by Tami Tsansai, Photos by Martei Korley—
A ‘dubical’– dub poetry musical –with an undeniably fascinating title, No-Maddz‘s Breadfruit is the New Bread, Baby opened at The Theatre Place in Kingston, Jamaica, in May, and is now traveling on the road in Jamaica. Though the concept is fashioned for theatre, this is more of a revue with a live band, set in a bakery with breadfruit as props, than a traditional musical. There is no integral plot to weave it all together. It is, however, very different from what local artistes are currently conceptualizing, and we must give them kudos for that.
The metaphorical title sees the group distinguishing themselves (the breadfruit) from other acts (the bread), positioning themselves as a less mainstream, but more wholesome, option. Indeed, the quartet is known for their unconventional approach to entertainment, retro styling and thought-provoking material—all of which is represented in their ‘dubical’ venture. Breadfruit gives the No-Maddz, who met as students at Kingston College, a chance to don their signature ‘Jah Laddins’ once again and showcase their versatility. They all have strong acting backgrounds and the production sees them paying homage to some of Jamaica’s most respected poets and dramatists. Touching on subjects from police brutality to the corporate environment, infidelity and arrogance, the production is seasoned with comedy and Rastafarian doctrines.
The group’s own “Modern Technology/Jamaica Land of Beauty” kickstarts the show, followed by humorous performances of Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett Coverley’s “Roast Turkey and “Bongo Man,” among other sketches. The intermission proved refreshing – there was fried breadfruit served with coconut curried saltfish for the purchasing (yum!), and more breadfruit on display. The show’s second half featured the jazz and blues-flavoured “12:55,” with a superb cameo by saxophonist Damon Riley, and “Mountain Lion,” with a riveting kumina-inspired solo by percussionist Christopher Downer. A teaser of “Rise Above Profanity (Puku Poo)” signalled the perceived closing of the production, until a rowdy “patron” (played by Oraine Meikle) stormed the front row to demand a full performance of their biggest hit.
Though simplistic, the set design, lighting and sound are effective, the acting good and the production quite engaging. Stage managers Duane Morgan and Rasheem Shepherd and band members Elton Brown (keyboards), Dorian Green (drums) and Damion Benjamin (bass guitar) also enhanced the experience.
Breadfruit is the New Bread, Baby is traveling the island this month ahead of appearance at Suriname’s Carifest August 16 – 25, so, if you’re in Jamaica, there’s still time to see it. To keep up with dates and showtimes, visit here.
Click here to browse Martei Korley’s gallery from the Kingston run.