Arts & entertainment

Find your 'Ram in the Bush'

Play by Gainesville playwright explores our human failings


Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 2:46 p.m.

The cast of "A Ram in the Bush" delivered a performance that was inspiring and lots of fun.

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Scenes from the performance of “A Ram in the Bush,” a play written, directed and starring Barry McLeod. Funkman, played by McLeod, walks on the scene.

BRAD MCCLENNY/Special to the Guardian

The nearly 175 people who attended "A Ram in the Bush," a comedic musical directed by and starring playwright Barry S. McLeod, were treated to a gospel production that explored serious human failings such as jealousy, anger and alcoholism with sensitivity, humor and hope.

"A Ram in the Bush," which was held last Saturday at Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy, was sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida Inc.

The play received high praise.

Andray Hicks said "A Ram in the Bush" explored family relations in a way most people can relate.

"It's funny," said Hicks. "They bicker and fight like all families do, and everyone has their favorites. This is a story we can relate to."

The two-act play takes place in the living room of Grandpa Charlie and Momma Leila during a hurricane. Throughout the play, there is a lot of bickering between Grandpa Charlie and Momma Leila, as well as humorous incidents, witty dialogue and plenty of surprises.

McLeod plays a cranky old man masterfully and the rest of the cast develops characters the audience can care for.

Grandpa Charlie and Momma Leila become host to unexpected relatives and strangers, who are all trying to escape a hurricane. Act I opens with Grandpa Charlie, played by McLeod, flirting with the audience, then we hear a voice calling "Charlie" from somewhere in the house.

"My wife is kind of crazy," Grandpa Charlie tells the audience. Then Momma Leila makes her entrance, saying, "You don't have a bit of sense Charlie." That exchange sets the tone for their relationship throughout the play.

Granddaughter Neicy, played by Joy Matthews, shows up unexpectedly. She is Grandpa Charlie's favorite granddaughter, and although very sweet, she has a drinking problem and keeps a bottle in her purse.

Another granddaughter, Maxi, played by Tasha Lindsey, along with her boyfriend, Ice Man, played by Shane Jackson, also show up unexpectedly to avoid the storm. Niecy and Maxi have issues going back to their childhood, and Niecy, who is inebriated, can't keep her hands off Ice Man, who keeps moving around the room trying to get away from her.

Momma Leila, who knows Niecy has a drinking problem, takes her aside and encourages her to stop drinking. "You gotta depend on God. With him, there's no doubt, Momma Leila tells her. "He will work it out for you."

Veronica, the daughter of Charlie and Leila, calls to say she and her family, which includes her husband, Calvin, played by Bino Pace of the famous Pace Family of gospel singers, and her two children, Lil Chaka and Man-Man, are coming over, too. Veronica quickly lets everyone know how rich she is.

Grandpa Charlie, who doesn't like anyone except for Niecy, keeps trying to get everyone to leave his house, while Momma Leila continues to try to keep Grandpa Charlie in line (which is no easy task).

Into this dysfunctional and bickering family come two strangers trying to escape the storm. They are Vian, played by Tonya Coppin, who is a pregnant woman going into labor and headed to the hospital, and her boyfriend, Silk, a repeat offender who just got out of jail.

When Charlie hears Silk is just out of jail, he orders Vian and Silk out, pulls out a sword and threatens Silk. A lot of craziness ensues. Then an event takes place that changes everyone.

The play can be performed for church and community groups as a fundraiser. For more information, call 352-371-2700 or visit www.thewritesideofme.com.

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