Following in the footsteps of interview based plays, such as Alfian Sa’at’s Cooling Off Day and Moises Kaufman’s The Laramie Project, Let’s Get Back Together (LGBT, pun fully intended!) follows interviews, Facebook statuses and blogposts revolving around what it’s like to be a member of the LGBTQ community in Singapore. Interviewees range from prominent members of the community such as ‘Tania’, ‘Otto’ and ‘Vincent’, to brave admissions on IWIllSurvive, to interviews with ordinary, everyday people, both straight and gay.
Despite a slow start and bumpy direction/acting, LGBT quickly draws the audience into its world of heartfelt, sometimes brutally honest confessions and feelings. Handily divided into sections surrounding childhood, army, family and religion, the impact of the monologues come hard and fast, often exempt from flowery language and hitting you right in the gut with raw, relatable emotion.
The brilliant video and soundwork complemented the monologues very well and often added a new layer of depth to the monologues, particularly the segment extracted from Channel U showcasing multiple people on the street admitting that they are unaccepting of homosexuality, which segued into monologues surrounding the topic of familial acceptance. One could even compare the technical work to that of a modern art piece displayed in a museum, such as during Ezzat Alkaff’s monologue while dozens of eyes began appearing on the screen behind him.
The one thing that really took me by surprise was the extremely flat and unexpected ending, which betrayed the well built string of monologues by capping off on a bland, dull note. One particular monologue by ‘Otto’ about reconciliation with family members and that family remained the most important aspect struck a chord with me, and I thought that would have been a much better and more impactful monologue to end off with.
Although the nature of the script did not give much room for showcasing chemistry onstage, the cast of 6 managed to hold their own and deliver the emotion expected and required of such a script, which was much more important than certain directorial decisions to add background actions from the other actors while a monologue was ongoing, which acted more as distraction than complement. There were certainly hits and misses, a big one being Rosemary McGowan’s attempt at doing a piece in Chinese, which was awkward and stumbled over. However, her crisp, clear enunciation served her well in her roles as ‘Tania’ and ‘Melissa’, interviewees who had particularly angry and lengthy monologues. Matthew Fam almost always plays campy, flamboyant characters throughout LGBT, which worked for some but not so much for others. A friend and I agreed that he got ‘Ivan’ down pretty well though, which you’d be surprised, is actually very hard to do. Mitchell Fang was able to showcase multiple types of characters well, including drag queen ‘Mistevious’, and the other two female cast members, Theresa Wee-Yenko and Cassandra Spykerman presented convincing accounts of lesbians and transmen alike, while Ezzat Alkaff's account as a Muslim man reconciling his religion with his sexuality was particularly powerful. These are some serious actors to look out for in future.
An issue I had was with the lighting, which, whether intentional or not, left the actors in shadow a lot of the time, and particular in the scenes where the actors were placed on either side of the stage, leaving a big empty space in the middle, the lighting is more important than ever not to leave them obscured but highlighted.
As a final note, to me, despite the title abbreviating to LGBT, I thought it was also poignant in that it represented not a couple getting back together, but rather, seemed to imply the state coming to terms with the existence of the LGBTQ community and the hope that one day, the community would ‘get back together’ and finally be accepted by the state.
I applaud Red Pill Production’s daring move to stage such a piece so early on in their career, and can only hope that they continue to push the envelope and go on to greater things ahead. LGBT serves as a 2014 time capsule of LGBT movement in Singapore, in a year full of incident, such as NLB’s book pulping and the Wear White movement, capturing the state of affairs and leaving audiences with the benefit of comprehension and the hope of change.
JustWatchLah Rating: 3.25/5