‘The Cabinet’ our very own ‘Animal Farm’
It’s a good thing Ward Minnis’ latest production, “The Cabinet”, delivers lots of laughs, or else you’d probably cry in your car on the way home and rip up your voter’s card.
If that comes off as harsh, it’s not meant to — “The Cabinet” is a fun experience, and should be required viewing for all Bahamians who often wonder “How did we get here?” or perhaps, “Why are we the way we are?” The play doesn’t exactly answer those questions any historically accurate way — that would be libelous. But it sure gets us thinking with its parody of imagined Bahamian political history.
“The Cabinet” follows two young rival political parties, the “Flamingo” party and the “Peas n’ Rice” party, as they make and break deals with each other behind closed doors to plot their rise to power.
Indeed “absolute power corrupts absolutely” here — we see clearly how each politician is motivated by greed and not by the well-being of the “Archipelago Islands” themselves, which are hardly mentioned beyond a bill of women’s rights that itself is used a political tool.
If you see certain well-known politicians in these characters, well, Minnis may say that’s all in your imagination (wink, wink). But to give credit where credit is due, the actors involved played their parts perfectly. The small six-person cast allowed for the audience to explore the depth in their characters reflected in the way each responded to the promise and possession of power.
Special mention must go to Chigozie Ijeoma (playing Reggie Moxey, head of the Flamingo party and two-time prime minister plotting to get his third run in despite his promise of “two and through”) whose exact mimicry of a particularly powerful head of country was executed perfectly.
Matthew Wildgoose essentially stole the show in his role of Kendrick Johnson of the Flamingo party, the goofy and woefully underequipped successor to Moxey. Every time he walked onto stage, before a word came out of his mouth, the audience was in stitches — and he knew how to make that last.
Special about the performance this time around was the presence of Anthony “Skeebo” Roberts, whose role of the deceased first head of the Peas n’ Rice party, Lymon Leadah, was indeed a treat.
Overall, the swift second half of the play made up for a slow first few scenes. Yet Minnis (who himself played the role of Jerome Cartwright, the verbose head of the Peas n’ Rice Party) has a play here that may become more significant and worthy of examination as we move away from this most recent period of history he reimagines. The story is not new — we know how it ends, and we can’t look away. It’s our very own Bahamian “Animal Farm”, not some slim “Snowball’s Chance”, and he disguises our familiar historical events well with plenty of slapstick humor to make the very slimy nature of politics palatable. All we can do is laugh, or else we’d be forced to face ourselves.
It’s a good thing, too, because if we didn’t laugh at that final backstabbing scene, we would perhaps be stunned into disgusted silence. For truth is, if they used even just a fraction of the energy they used to carefully secure their next politically powerful move on improving that country, no doubt the country would be vying with the world’s superpowers.
Instead, beneath such hilarity is a serious message of shortsightedness — not in Bahamian politics, but in Bahamian people. In the end, when those politicians with several knives in their backs shake each other’s bloody hands, we realize there are no idiots present on that stage — not even in Wildgoose’s oblivious character. The question instead falls to us to answer as to why they are elected in the first place.