SYNOPSIS

Across The Bridge is a soul stirring fast paced drama that exposes the story of one man’s faith, tested, lost and regained; miracles, love and relationships. Focusing on family matters, Across the Bridge is well-acted, enlightening and entertaining. Bringing the curtains down on 2016 on a triumphant note for writer-producer-director-actor David Tulloch, Across the Bridge has everything a great play should: a winning storyline, humour and dramatic intensity in substantial measure, and solid acting performances to bring it all together. Undoubtedly, this five-hander deserves a place among the best new Jamaican plays of 2016. The ideal casting and Tulloch’s terrific writing aside, the play’s strongest asset is the frank exploration of friendship, family and the power of faith.

It tells the deeply affecting story of Jacob Johnson (Tulloch), a devoted mama’s boy who desperately wants to become a priest. But his elderly mom (Leonie Forbes), who is dying of cancer, feels he’s missing out on important things like having a college degree to his name and a woman to bear him children to carry on the family legacy. Alongside his fun-loving bredrin Jamie (Jerry Benzwick), Jacob has a pair of young women vying for his attention – the flirty-frisky Renée (Christene Marshall), who wants to wear the ring, and his mother’s insurance agent, Nicky (Sabrina Thomas), a former preparatory schoolmate who’s evolved into a tall, dark, gorgeous and very mature specimen. But foremost on Jacob’s mind is healing mommy dearest of her cancer. That’s how deep his faith runs. Things take a 360-degree turn, however, when his mother loses her battle with The Big C, infuriating Jacob who takes out his anger on The Man Upstairs. But when a vehicular accident almost claims his life, he learns some valuable lessons that force him to see things in a whole new light.

Across The Bridge comes hot on the heels of spell-bounding performances from the legendary, iconic Leonie Forbes in David Tulloch’s “Not My Child” and winning Best Actress in a leading role for her turn in David Tulloch’s “For My Daughter”. The production is directed by the critically acclaimed and multi-award winning, David Tulloch who has been chalking up platitudes and accolades for his multi-faceted works in recent times. So this Christmas collaboration is truly anticipated.

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THE CAST

Leonie Forbes – Martha Johnson

The legendary, iconic, Leonie Forbes a.k.a "Ms. Lee" is Jamaica's First Lady of Theatre and Film. She studied Theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. She has acted in several film roles, plays and has appeared in numerous pantomimes put on by the LTM National Pantomime in Jamaica, West Indies. Ms. Forbes was also a T.V. personality and film producer for several years on the island. She has starred in a Caribbean sitcom called, "Lord Have Mercy" which has been broadcast in Toronto, Canada. For her role in "Lord Have Mercy" she received the 2003 Gemini Award for Best actress in a comedy drama. Many Jamaicans remember Leonie Forbes for her charming personality and informative disposition. She has won the "My Life in the Theatre" medal by the Mexican Theatre Centre of the International Theatre Institute for outstanding theatre personalities of Latin America and the Caribbean (2001) She is the holder of an order of Distinction (Officer Class) Government of Jamaica (1980), a Silver Musgrave medallist, a Bronze Musgrave medallist, a Centenary medallist and five-time ITI Actor Boy awardee for Best Actress. Leonie Forbes is considered today as the most consummate actress and a master of delivery and control.

 

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David Tulloch – Jacob Johnson/Playwright/Artistic Director

Despite his numerous accolades and a theatre career spanning almost 24 years as an all-rounder in the performing arts, David is now a five-time ITI Actor Boy award winner, three-time Methuen award winner, four-time thespy award winner and a Prime Minister’s Youth awardee. At only 35 years of age this multi-hyphenate has already written, directed and produced over 40 plays. He has 12 original scores to his credit and appeared in almost 100 productions including stage plays and concerts. Laudably prolific, classily provocative, and ostensibly passionate about whatever he does, the contribution he’s making, and the legacy he’s determined to leave behind for future generations, he has an ITI Actor Boy nomination for Best Actor in a leading role for his distinct portrayal of ‘Scar’ in Lion King, David recently appeared on stage in the heavily lauded and awarded ‘For My Daughter’ and the hilariously well acclaimed ‘Prayer Partner’ both written and directed by himself. He played the lead role in the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company’s 2015 production of ‘At the Barricade’ which he also produced and directed in August of 2015. He was the last to join the cast of ‘The Blackburns of Royal Palm Estate’ as the notorious ‘SOBERS’.  He has appeared in his own ‘BANGARANG’ which was the 2015 offering of the Shebada franchise and toured extensively locally and overseas. David also co- directed and appeared in ‘Border Patrol 2’ for the Delcita franchise. He is dubbed by Tallawah Magazine as the ‘Golden Boy of Jamaican Theatre’, ‘miracle-worker’ by his close colleagues but more commonly referred to as the ‘Mad-Scientist’ of the industry.

 

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Jerry Benzwick – Jamie Scott      

Jerry believes that acting is his destiny. Jerry’s talents extend beyond the stage he is also a casting director and manager at his own Kriswick Talent Scouting & Promotion as well as master of ceremonies at special occasions. He has appeared in A Mandala, Oroonoko, Kiss Mi Neck, For Better or For Worse, Single Entry, Against His Will, Uptown Bangarang. Concubine, To the Finish to name a few.  He was nominated for Actor Boy Award for Best Actor in a leading role for his turn in Oroonoko and another nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Uptown Bangarang. In recent times Jerry is a part of the national rugby coaching staff and they have been excelling in their efforts. This is Jerry’s first Probemaster Entertainment production and he believes if he can tell the story to the audience and they go home fulfilled and totally convinced by his character then he is living the dream.

 

 

REVIEWS

Robyn Miller - Life has a way of dishing us some hard lessons and, whenever it does, it tends to reveal things about our character we had no idea we were capable of.  By the same token it can expose us for the persons we truly are. As we all are humans, our frailties are always on display, and so our gut reaction when confronted with a crisis tends to settle on one of two things – cursing the gods and everyone else around us and questioning, ‘Why me?’ or, we can dig deep within, pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and learn from the experience. That’s the gritty kind of stuff theatre-goers are treated to in David Tulloch’s latest drama, Across the Bridge.  The production which closed out 2016 has been enjoying a successful run well into the New Year at Kingston’s Theatre Place, a venue which the immensely talented playwright has made home to his increasingly entertaining and provocative productions. Across the Bridge takes us into the world of Jacob (David Tulloch) a young, devout Christian man with dreams of a life in the ministry.  Well intentioned, Jacob practices every chance he gets at perfecting life on the pulpit – in a plot which unfolds nicely and is supported by some stellar acting all-round. But there’s another side to the affable Jacob that makes him both appealing and despised somewhat, if not by his audience, then certainly by wanna-be girlfriend, Renée (Christene Marshall) and the man who claims to be his best friend, Jamie (Jerry Benzwick) but sneaks around with Jacob’s woman every chance he gets. The ultimate Mama’s Boy, the bright, articulate and good-looking Jacob has not lived up to his full potential – and his cancer-stricken mother, Ms. Wallace (Leonie Forbes), wants that to change fast knowing full well she is about make her exit.  A hand-picked wife in the form of Nicky (Sabrina Thomas), a few grandchildren and a degree to his name would all make mommy dearest happy. But with a constantly lurking Renée jostling for his affection, Jacob’s poor mother may well have to settle for the afterlife before those dreams are fulfilled.   Besides, Renée blames the “uncivilized and unfriendly” woman for Jacob’s refusal to grant her “girlfriend” status.   But all that changes in a split second when Jacob’s doting mother succumbs to cancer.  At a crossroads and mourning his beloved mother, Renée becomes the “lady of the house”. But Jacob’s world turns upside-down shortly after when a car accident lands him in a wheelchair and robs him of his sight.  Losing faith even further he curses God and everyone else for his misfortune until family and friendship step in the form of his beautiful childhood friend, insurance agent, Nicky and a vision from his dead mother.   In a set of scenes sprinkled with a belly-full of laughter, Tulloch gets his audience riled up with his onstage antics as he curses and carries on.  There is great support, too, from his supporting cast from which an Actor Boy nomination should come. The doyenne of Jamaican theatre, Forbes is yet again at her best in a performance that is simply remarkable and delivered with a fluidity near unmatched in the theatre world. Benzwick, too, is impressive as the confident and cocky girls’ man, all the time evoking laughter from his audience for his wit and sheer animation wherever he made his appearance.   Stage and lighting are quite good and there is some standout scenes that support these efforts, like Jacob’s mother appearing robed in white in a hail of dust as she makes her final visit on her son. Audiences will take away many lessons from Tulloch’s Across The Bridge – the most potent of which are the important value of family and friendships to restoring one’s faith and helping to build their character.