Entertainment

Dahlia Harris goes To The Finish

BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer staff reporter livingstonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, February 15, 2014    

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GIVEN the cloud that hung over Jamaican track and field last year, it seemed appropriate that playwright/sportscaster Dahlia Harris should produce a play on a dark period for the sport.

To The Finish, co-directed by Harris and Susan Beadle, opened Boxing Day at the Pantry Playhouse in New Kingston.

Written by Harris, a former reporter/producer with Television Jamaica, the play is inspired by drug allegations three of Jamaica's top athletes faced in 2013.

Olympic gold medalists and sprinters Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson tested positive for banned substances.

Campbell-Brown was cleared by a local committee which was led by retired Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe. Powell and Simpson's cases are being heard by the government-appointed Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel.

Administrators also felt the heat. In November, the previous executive of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission resigned en bloc amid claims its drug-testing methods were faulty.

To The Finish follows the career of sprinter Victoria Speid as she makes the transition from high school to pro athlete.

Victoria hails from a poor rural community where her parents are small farmers. Father Speid pushes his daughter to take her career to the next level, while her mother is the voice of reason, stressing the benefits of a good education over athletics.

To The Finish drives home the conflicts, emotions and sometimes anguish a professional athlete faces.

These challenges are complemented by witty and humorous lines delivered with aplomb by a talented cast.

Julene Robinson as Victoria, Chris McFarlane (Father Speid), Nadean Rawlins (Mother Speid), Jerry Benzwick, as the sport agent and Carl Samuels as coach, turn in strong performances.

To The Finish, which opened Boxing Day, is a must-see for sport buffs, especially track and field fans.

The play continues its run this weekend.

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