Whether you’re currently swimming in the Bahamian dating pool, coupled up, or choosing to remain single: This play is for you. I had the pleasure of seeing Kerel Pinder‘s New Rules of Sex and Dating (NRSD) last night, and I was blown away by the seamless performance! I’ve been a fan of live theatre for a long time, and have seen numerous productions in London, New York, Minneapolis, etc. This play was on par with some of the top performances I’ve seen around the world, and I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed harder! Based on Pinder’s hit book, The One Year Challenge, this play will take you through a range of emotions, and maybe even help to provide some insight into your own relationships – most importantly, your relationship with yourself!
Marlena Leonard truly shined in her role as Courtney Bennet – a heart-broken young lady on a soul-searching mission. Nina Laing, in her role as Tasha, constantly kept the audience in stitches with her snap-chats, dance moves, and “not-ghetto-at-all” quips, while Jillian Lightbourne (who played Tara) and Clarisse Pelanne (Khloe) balanced out the group in a way that can best be likened as Charlotte and Samantha from Sex and the City.
Despite the strong female cast, the men were still given a chance to shine. Corey Damianos, Sr. and Evan Williams brought sexy swagger to the stage, while the comedic slap-stick style antics of Remardo Russell had the audience roaring in fits of laughter! Timico Sawyer – despite the fact that he had only a few lines – stole the show during the nightclub scene, just with his actions alone.
After the show, I managed to catch up with a few of the cast members to hear about their experiences with the play.
Marlena Leonard’s love of theatre started in primary school, and she is now studying screenwriting and producing in London, England. Although she’s working on a script right now, she declares that she loves acting and writing equally. When asked about NRSD, Leonard stated, “I think a lot of the people like the show because they see themselves or their friends in the characters. It’s a very relatable show, because they’re not just one-dimensional characters.” Leonard had to take some time to get into her role, as the character she plays is very different from her own easy-going personality, but she really enjoyed playing Courtney.
Clarisse Pelanne was all smiles after the show: “This being my first production, I honestly could not have picked a better cast, a better crew, a better director, [or] a better writer! Everybody is like family. That’s why the chemistry is so on point; that’s why the energy is so high, because we’re actually all friends in real life. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to be introduced into theatre at all.”
Although she’s not immediately planning to act in another play, due to the serious time commitment involved, Pelanne said,”It’s something I would encourage everybody to try at least once. Cross it off your bucket list. Get over your fear and just get out there!”
Nina Laing started acting in Freeport when she was about 14, and just fell in love with it. She also acted in Kerel Pinder’s last play, Sarah’s Wedding back in 2014, and said of Pinder: “She just keeps improving!” Laing has had a really positive experience with NRSD, and states, “I’m happy the audiences have been so receptive, and look forward to what Saturday and Sunday bring.”
Timico “Sawyerboy” Sawyer’s debut appearance on stage was a fun surprise. The comedian seems to be popping up everywhere these days, including a new television pilot called It’s Complicated (incidentally, another of Kerel Pinder’s writing projects). When asked how he came to be involved in the play, he stated: “I just answered my phone, and Kerel was on the other end. She told me she was coming over [from Freeport] and she needed me to come for 3 days. I had a few lines, but everything else was just improv.” He said he’d be willing to do stage plays again, provided he doesn’t have to remember too many lines. Sawyer is pleased with the great reception the play has been receiving throughout the islands.
Chester Robards was among the audience members waiting to congratulate the NRSD team after the play. His reaction likely sums up the feelings of the majority of the audience members: “I thought it was absolutely amazing. Great acting! The play was seamless; the punchlines were great; it was extremely funny and very touching. Kerel did a great job putting it together. I’ve never seen anything like it, to tell you the truth!”