“A lot of drama, laughter and love.” This is what the partners of Crossfield House Productions promised when patrons see their remount of their play, A Little Black Lie, now on stage at the Tarragon Theatre’s Mainspace in Toronto.
They certainly delivered on that with some twists and turns when the play, written by Troy Crossfield and directed by Douglas Prout, opened its five-day run on July 24. The main narrative revolves around Michael Myers (Troy Crossfield) and Stacey White (Sheronna Osbourne) who are about to get married. But when skeletons from the past begin to come to light, Michael is forced to face some uncomfortable truths about himself and his family or risk losing everything.
While helping him deal with his past, Stacey decides to confront her own unresolved issues that threaten to jeopardize her living "happily ever after.” They both soon learn that “what happens in the dark must come to light.”
The cast of 20 actors also includes Robert Ball, Dwayne Beckford, Peter Bent, Stephanie Belanger, Quinn Crossfield, Soryiah Crossfield, Tarick Glancy, Anthony Kingz, Zyreeta Kingz, Jaiden Lewis, Danian Lloyd, Christie Maingot, Zakiya Mcintosh, Christian Miller, Marvin Morgan, Peter Radcliffe, Bernice Ryan and Karen Simpson.
Episodically crafted, A Little Black Lie, opens many windows into the psychological and psychical state of Michael and Stacey and their relationships, but also reveals things happening in the lives of their family and friends. While Stacey combs the hair of her daughter, Shai (Soriyah Crossfield), and share memories of her deceased mother, Shirley White (Christie Maingot) while anticipating the wedding, we see vignettes of her mother’s life and the love she has for her. Crossfield’s creative writing and Prout’s direction are apt in positioning these actions on stage at the same time in different settings with only the lighting signaling the cues.
This is juxtaposed against Michael’s nightmare which involves his father and gay lover (or so we’re led to believe initially), stopping his wedding ceremony.
What unfolds in A Little Black Lie are the lies and secrets, but also the wiles that some will use to get what they want. Eventually we learn of an embezzlement scheme, who is behind it, and how manipulative that person can be. Amidst the mix of comedy and drama are serious issues such as childhood sexual abuse and trauma, mental health, infidelity, poverty, survival, homosexuality, heteronormativity, faith and love. The plot thickens with the multiple narratives; one of which focuses on the probing of Michael’s sexual orientation and how the revelation of that would affect his pending marriage. That forms a springboard for an investigation by Stacey’s friends, Veronica (Karen Simpson) and Nicole (Quinn-Marie Wilson), to find evidence to determine whether or not Michael has a gay lover. The only one accepting of Victor’s sexual identity is his brother Steve which counters how that reality is dealt with by the duped Michael (as we later find out).
Things become more complicated and emotional when Michael confronts his father and declares “I am broken” and we learn of the generational trauma within the family. The twists in the plot continue throughout and therefore when the play ends with the revelation of the results of DNA tests we anticipate the findings with bated breath.
What one is left asking is, will there be a sequel? Because each episode in this play could have its own sequel with more character development. Having only a few props on stage allows the actors to move with ease in and out of the scenes and quickens the pace. It helps that a slang like “mans dem” and voices with Caribbean inflections place the action and characters in Toronto and in the Black Canadian experience. Crossfield says what is important for Crossfield House Productions while they are developing more stories is consistency and he hopes to become the Tyler Perry of Toronto. He could achieve that too as he notes that this production company gives actors an opportunity to write their own narratives.
Crossfield House Productions is currently in pre-production mode for its first official film-- an adaptation of their first play, A Little White Lie. They will begin production of that as soon as the run of A Little Black Lie ends. Shooting begins in August.
A Little Black Lie is on at the Tarragon Theatre’s Mainspace until July 28 2019.
Neil Armstrong is a Toronto-based journalist who freelances with the Jamaican Weekly Gleaner and formerly with Pride News Magazine, and Caribbean Headline News on Rogers TV. Previously, he worked at Radio Jamaica Ltd.(RJR), CHRY 105.5 FM (now VIBE FM) and CJRT FM (now Jazz FM).
The BYBLACKS rating is scored out of 5 B's.
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