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One unguarded moment

Raphael’s mother tries to comfort him after his diagnosis.

by Latoya Burnham

The dire consequences of unprotected sex was the strong message of Redemption of Me – a play put on by The Lighthouse Theatre last weekend.

A good, but not packed, crowd turned out on Sunday evening to watch the production, featuring a mostly amateur cast at the Combermere School hall. The play was written by Jason Carmichael and directed by Simon Alleyne.

The play was about the challenges surrounding the decisions of Kelly (Sherika Stanford) and Raphael (Simon Alleyne) to engage in unprotected sex. Kelly was initially holding out for marriage before engaging in sexual activity, but pressure and opportunity led the two to abandon that decision and go ahead and have sex. The result was the contraction of HIV.

What made the play an enjoyable one was the general feeling from early that there were a few things being hidden behind the scenes and certainly behind the “nice-girl, Christian persona” of Kelly. It would later turn out that the consequences of the couple’s one indiscretion would result in far reaching consequences for both young people and those around them, their village and church community.

By the time intermission came one hour after the start of the play, the entire audience was along for the ride, having just realised that the relationship between Kelly and her stepfather was a little more sinister than it at first seemed. What made it all the more gripping was the fact that the audience had also just learned that her boyfriend Raphael was about to take the necessary medical and physical exams he needed for entry to university, where he was planning to pursue a career in music.

When the second half of the show opened it was in a doctor’s office, with Raphael and his parents now finding out about his HIV status. The interesting thing here is that everyone, from the church, to his parents and even friends, began to behave differently towards Raphael. The rumour mill began to work overtime and friends started to speculate that rather than being the virgin he had claimed to be, that Raphael was in fact on the “down low”, and the church believing that Raphael had corrupted their nice Christian sister, Kelly.

In the midst of all the confusion, with Raphael’s school plans now shelved as his parents began to smother him and try as much to protect him from getting ill, it seemed the only one who “had his back” was the neighbourhood shopkeeper and amiable drunk, Mr. George (Damian Mascoll) who advised him to talk with a counsellor. A year later the audience saw how far he had come in his own development and coming to terms with what happened to him.

Overall, for a cast of mostly amateurs, it was a good attempt by the Lighthouse Theatre group to bring a play of this magnitude and seriousness to the audience, in a manner that most people could relate to. There was humour in it, but also some sobering realities and it would seem by the applause at the end that the cast and team achieved their objective of getting their message about sex, HIV and stigma across most clearly.

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