Doodu Boy at the Santa Monica PlayhouseTheater — By Shelaagh Ferrell on January 22, 2014 at 10:46 pm
By Shelaagh Ferrell
If you are at a lost at what to do next Sunday or fancy taking a break from the game on Superbowl Sunday, try taking a trip to the Santa Monica Playhouse to see the one man show DOODU BOY. DOODU BOY is an entertaining autobiographical tale of the life of its writer and actor Stefhen Bryan . Produced by Debra Ehrhardt of Jamaica Farewell fame, DOODU BOY is a story of personal triumph over adversity from a man whose troubled life started in his homeland Jamaica and continued when he moved to the United States, finally reconciled when he moved to Japan.
DOODU BOY takes the audience on an intense and emotional journey through Bryan’s abusive childhood in Dunkirk (Passmore Town), a poor, depressed region of Kingston, Jamaica. Having been abandoned by his father, the young Steve is brought up as one boy surrounded by a host of women on a church commune with his single Christian mother, whose daily mantra seems to be, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. Nothing in his life seems to go right. A rare happy childhood moment is ruined when one day he loses control of his tricycle and falls, “Slumdog Millionaire” style into a cesspool, then earns the title name Doodu Boy. Between the beatings, young Steve dreams of going to America and bonding with his father. He gets his chance, but in a bizarre twist, his father changes his mind and turns his back on him. Stefhen grows suicidal and embraces his sexual addiction. After years of therapy, he manages to graduate with a degree in economics and gets a job teaching English in Japan. His life changes drastically. He masters the language and discovers a candy box of Japanese women ready and willing to feed his sexual appetite. One, in particular, will change his life forever.
Bryan’s script is admirably brave and humorous. It’s a candid exposé of a traumatic upbringing that in true Jamaican fashion, gives us wit and verve, rather than anger and self-pity. Yet through the laughter we do not lose sight of the reality of the pain.
Bryan’s performance is equally stunning. He embodies a very true and convincing version of his child, teen and adult self. He takes on board all the many male and females characters in the piece, which include among others, his mother, father, stepmother, the Pastor, church women, sexually needy Japanese women and a hilariously funny Japanese doctor, without caricaturing. Instead, he slinks smoothly and effortlessly into their bodies.
This is an example of minimalist theatre at its best, rich in its simplicity in which a seemingly colorful and diverse world is successfully realized with the clever use of a couple of black boxes, a credit to Director and Dramaturge Jared Scheib.
DOODU BOY has two more performances at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Los Angeles before continuing its Global tour.