His name was Keiran and He was a King

If you’re any kind of newspaper or theatre enthusiast, you would have heard that Keiran King (of Mr. and Mrs. Black and Taboo acclaim) has been writing weekly columns for The Gleaner since earlier this year. If you aren’t, I can’t imagine what you’re doing here but thank you for stopping by anyway.

Image not my own.

True to form (I really have no idea what Keiran’s form is), he started with a bang, dropping a piece criticizing Jamaica’s Tessanne-mania during the heights of The Voice and proving once again that no publicity is bad publicity. Hundreds of comments alternately lambasted and defended his point-of-view, most of them missing the point. But Keiran didn’t stop there.

He continued to stir the pot with his talk of sex, religion and politics at the dinner table. He pontificated on the importance of the Vybz Kartel trial and declaimed the Bible as a messy history book. Sensationalism at its best. He got tongue-in-cheek, telling couples not to have kids, and serious when he explored the basis of Jamaica’s economic pothole crater.

Image not my own.

He eventually explained (in a roundabout way) the method behind his madness as he tries to be the catalyst for the change that Jamaica so desperately needs. At this point I had a lightbulb moment.

Criticism, paradoxical as it may seem, is a deep form of affection. Would you rather nine friends who always say you look great, or one who tells you to ditch the flats, swap the earrings and, wrinkling her nose, reminds you to brush your teeth?

Keiran’s articles are well-written and witty, full of hyperbole and entertaining analogies and usually backed up by some obscure fact or the other. But they always carry me up on the heights of intellectual curiosity only to drop me abruptly as he reaches the word limit. He does it so fast that I’m left with my head spinning. The topics he broaches are too big, too broad to be handled well by a paltry one-week column (unless, of course, you’re Ian Boyne).

Perhaps his purpose is simply to tease the mind into an awareness of critical issues, to be the spark and not the flame. His self-proclaimed purpose is for his column to be: 

a breeding ground for larval ideas, not just the ones I put forth, but the thousands more that spring up in responses and conversations around the country.

It’s an admirable goal, Mr. King, and one can only hope it actually pans out.

Taboo at the Sherlock

Despite the limits of my university student wallet, I managed to indulge in a bit of culture by going to see Keiran King’s new play Taboo at Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts. (Right down the road from my hall of residence).

Based on the posters I was prepared for nudity, no PG-themes and . . . sex? (No idea). My friend M had mentioned an unexpected twist. I still don’t know what she was talking about. I saw that “twist” coming a mile away; the build-up just would not be ignored.

The play delivered.

It was foul-mouthed and witty, and yes, we got to see Yendi’s new-baby boobs. But aside from all that, Taboo struck home on a number of points. The lead character – William, played by King – is a disillusioned thirty year old writer who finds himself at the end of his drawn-out adolescence without having achieved any of his dreams. His relationship with his wife is on the rocks, and he finds solace only in his sister’s affection.

It’s not only the final denouement that is shockingly indelicate. The play talks about a lot of issues that are hushed up and overlooked, flinging itself out of the sphere of marital problems (a touchy topic in and of itself) into the larger closeted saga of family secrets, and the realities of life and adulthood.

The dialogue was fantastic. The play is all about double entendres and dirty puns, with a whole lot of self-deprecating humour. I was struck by how unafraid they were to criticize and call Jamaica out on all the crap that you only ever hear about when you complain to your friends. King in particular complains about how hard it is to be an author in Jamaica in a five minute rant that had me saying ‘Amen!’ aloud in the theatre. All his rants are entertaining. I remember spending a lot of time thinking ‘He talks like me.

The word refreshing is often over-used in these instances, but Taboo was like a tall glass of (Long Island) iced tea on a hot Kingston afternoon. Go watch it.

Running for the month of August. Tickets are $1500. Two-for-one on Tuesdays at 8.


Read the Gleaner review here! The Observer was way too mean.