February 22, 2015

What is Sex? by Edward Lam Dance Theatre (Huayi 2015)

Writen and directed by Edward Lam
Produced by Edward Lam Dance Theatre

Photos Courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

I should first start by saying that if you are not good in Chinese language/or have no appreciation of 红楼梦, you will probably be very bewildered by this show. In fact, in a self-mockery tone, the playwright asks the audience if they had eaten dinner in the very beginning of the play. Because if not, it would probably not be a nice feeling to watch a play which they can't understand on a hungry stomach.

In my opinion, a play is well done if it makes me continue to ruminate about the content after leaving the theatre, especially for this show, I find myself breaking out my old 红楼梦 text and seeing the references from the play. The fact that I am interested enough on this pursuit at 12.30 am speaks volume of the play.

As written in the programme booklet, What is Sex? is not meant to be a staging of 红楼梦. And I liked that. I found that particularly intriguing. Edward Lam has selected scenes from the Chinese classic and used them as a backdrop to portray seemingly (i emphasise, seemingly) irrelevant scenes from modern life. I was initially very perplexed by this anachronistic presentation (Credit card? with Xifeng and Pinger?) but by scene three or four, it suddenly came to me the beauty of Edward Lam's arrangement. While the actual context/dialogue of the scene from 红楼梦 and What is Sex may not be coherent, this juxtaposition of 红楼梦 and What is Sex actually drew parallels between the two. This underscores what Edward Lam wrote in the programme, despite three centuries, themes/stories of Dream of the Red Chamber still apply today. Maybe just the tools are different today (you can use electric iron to scald a 'maid/slave') but these acts remain unchanged in their intent across time.

The choice of scenes were also captivating. There were a myriad of scenes. I was particularly fond of a few. Scene 3: Mayhem in School - we saw the lively male ensemble effectively creating a teenage-level school scene, without overacting and degenerating it into a childish cat fight. 这一点,我觉得导演拿捏的很好。既可以带出少年学生的调皮,互动,更清楚为以众欺小做了一副写真。

I guess in the spirit of the show, I shall type random things in Chinese too: 没有人听,我就不告解,我就没有犯罪了。第四场的这一句话,让我留下了深刻的印象。很多人也是这样吧,做错了事,就企图把它给埋在脑海深处,也不跟任何人说。没有人听,不提起,就好比真的没有做过一样。

Scene 14 was possibly my favourite scene. Getting two guys acting as Bao Yu and Dai Yu, and to develop a love scene between them, runs the high risk of becoming campy and revolting. But it wasn't. It was handled impeccably well by the two actors and the relationship between this pair of lovers were rightly accentuated, without incurring any slapstick laughter (which would have spoilt the scene). I thought Edward Lam did a really good job on this scene, and the strategic placing of it at Scene 14 really helped to wrap the show up nicely towards the end.

Although I recognise some actors' names from previous Huayi (or other rains like Lei Yu), I regret to say that although the actors were generally competent as a group, I couldn't distinguish them individually (I suppose that was the director's choice when he had them playing some many roles within a scene). Not that it's a bad thing, just that I can't praise any one particularly good. But in general, they all were. The men were impressive.
Beyond the stories and actors, I thought the motion picture effects were picturesque and well done. I particularly liked the shattered mirror effect, cash turning into paper and the snowing effect at the end. It was classy and non ostentatious.

Really, this show has been inspiring in more than one way. 看了这戏,中文也提升了两三分。回家后到了网上,还Google了王维的诗。“渡头余落日,墟里上孤烟。”,“大漠孤烟直,长河落日圆”确实写的很美;很怪,但就如剧中所言,很美。

I think in conclusion, I was really happy that I managed to catch this year's Hua yi. Watching religiously watched Huayi for many years (except last year because I was outfield), I daresay that shows in the Huayi festival do not disappoint. Would I recommend this show to everyone? I confidently say that its not for everyone. Without prior knowledge of 红楼梦 (contrary to what Edward Lam said), i think it would be difficult to appreciate the show. But if you know the story of 红楼梦, and you appreciate the beautifully written lines from 红楼梦 being used (relentlessly) in the play, you will probably enjoy the show as much as I did. Was 3.5 hours a bit too long? Perhaps. But to be restless once in a while was probably okay for this overall wonderful show. In my opinion that is.

Justwatchlah score: 4/5

February 15, 2015

Invasion by Bound Theatre

[on call tomorrow. need to sleep early]

I'm really not a big fan of physical theatre but I reckon that I can still recognize a good one when I see one. However, in Invasion, these physical theatre snippets served more as a distraction than anything else. The play had an interesting premise and I was intrigued (I rarely am these days) to watch how the story would develop. However i was interrupted by outbursts of deconstructed art, which frankly made me rather pek chek far too often.

I thought it was a refreshing idea to personify Singa, "bags down" beng and "move in" machik. In particularly I wanted to see more interactions between old familiar friendly Singa and the new dynamic duo. The anachronistic coexistence of the courtesy mascots old and new was, in my opinion, a very good platform for theatrical exploitation. But alas, it rarely progressed beyond a silly banter between the couldnt-be-more-stereotypical laughter-milking "Singaporean" characters. Unfortunately beng's hokkien English wasn't strong enough, making his characterization rather contrite. The machik did a slightly more appealing characterization, one of the not of often times when I bought the cross dressing idea. The taxi driver also had the same problem as bags down beng, also unable to pull off the typical married uncle role. This deficiency was further underscored when the script mentioned family and wife.. I found myself thinking... Really?

Going back to the script, I really had the playwright and director had an interesting concept in the background. This concept of an fungal (it was right?) epidemic and vaccination (I refrain from commenting about the medical fallacy involved here), Damian and his past. There was also a potentially nice romantic set up between Damian and his co-worker, potentially intriguing relationship between Damian and the "scientist", Damian and Singa, and potentially provocative one between Damian and his mother. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I think playwrights should focus more on plot and character development. I wanted to see a lot more between the characters, but didn't.. :(

One other sore point that I must point out was the blatant defiance towards logicality. Taxi driver sees man on roof, calls police and scientist picked up? (Which didn't serve any plot purpose too hmm) there were many such moments. Arghh

One thing I should mention however was the concept of mind reading. The quick swift scene changes between old house and tennis playing, and the abundance of tennis balls in successive numbers was very well done.

Aiyoh, I don't know if it's because most students in school are very much exposed to physical theatre during their drama classes, but the abundance of such artsy theatrical devices in aspiring theatre practitioners is shocking. In fact, most professional theatre groups shuns themselves away from this difficult to satisfy genre. I think young theatre practitioners should stick to good o' theatre and start without grandiose intentions. This is just my two cents worth, probably members of the production team will disagree with me.

I'm really curious to read the original script though.

February 2, 2015

KUMAR Stands Up for Singapore by Dream Academy

Does Singapore have a SUPERHERO standing up for us?  You bet your bottom CPF dollar we do!  Just like our Singapore Flag has 5 Stars, our Singapore Champion’s name has 5 letters : K.U.M.A.R!!!!

As Uniquely Singapore as Your Singapore can get, KUMAR spends April 2015 being our STB …
Singapore’s Top Bapok – STANDING UP FOR SINGAPORE!  Celebrating Singapore’s journey from a swampy island of a few orang lauts to today’s bustling metropolis of millions.   He’ll make you roar with laughter as he tackles the red, the white, the stars and, of course, his Crescent Moon.  Come laugh with KUMAR as you discover the true meaning of mari kita!

KUMAR Stands Up for Singapore (R18)
22 – 26 April 2015
Esplanade Theatre
Directed by Selena Tan

Public Enemy by W!LD RICE

Public Enemy WR web event page banner 
What happens when you speak your mind and your entire community turns against you? Do you stand by what you believe is right? Or do you tell your colleagues, your family and your friends what they want to hear?
In a town that's preparing to market itself as a world-class resort spa, Dr. Thomas Chee (Ivan Heng) discovers that the water supply is riddled with bacteria. He resolves to go public with the information. It's a decision that pits him against his entire community. Overnight, he finds himself drowning in a storm of protests from the government, media, businesses, and even his family. Suddenly, Dr. Chee is the enemy of the people – the man who insists on telling truths that no one wants to hear.

One of the world's most powerful classics, Public Enemy asks thought-provoking questions about democracy and the freedom of expression. What does it mean to hold firmly to an unpopular opinion in a world where it's easier to conform? Can one man stand up to the tyranny of the majority? When does bravery become naivety?

Henrik Ibsen's electrifying satire comes to life under Glen Goei's direction. Exploring issues of politics, principles and power, Public Enemy tells a timeless tale of courage and corruption that has challenged and entertained audiences for over a hundred years.

As part of W!LD RICE's thrilling 15th Anniversary season, Public Enemy is the first production that's set to capture your imagiNATION this year!

9 – 25 Apr 2015
Victoria Theatre, Singapore

January 24, 2015

HOSSAN-AH! Safe and Secure in His LEONG Arms

Like our true blue Singapore Boy, we are the country that punches above its weight. (Our soldiers don't even have to do chin-ups to be combat fit). Our citizens have been kept safe and secure despite our unique claim to fame as the only country to have fought against independence and still become independent.

With his trademark one-man-many-façade performance, Hossan opens a milestone year (it is the golden jubilee after all) in the life of the island we love.

Our own piano man will give thought to the many artistic influences in his career - from the piano men in Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Jamie Cullum and more, to the TV theme songs of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Let Hossan entertain and put you in the mood to celebrate our funny little mash-up culture! 

Event Date
Wed, 28 Jan - Sun, 1 Feb 2015
Wed - Fri: 8pm
Sat & Sun: 4pm & 8pm
Ticket Pricing
(Excludes Booking Fee)
Standard: S$52, S$42, S$32, S$22 

January 22, 2015

W!LD RICE celebrates 15th Anniversary and SG50 with imagiNATION!

IMG15 logo small 4 used for WR web
W!LD RICE celebrates its15th anniversary in 2015.

To mark this milestone, which coincides with Singapore’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the company will present ‘imagiNATION’, a season of five exciting new productions inspired by the stars of the Singapore flag.

Illuminating and reflecting on the ideas of democracy, peace, progress, equality and justice, the productions will include: 
  • Public Enemy, an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's powerful and timely classic, directed by Glen Goei and starring Ivan Heng and Lim Kay Siu, which will challenge the easy assumptions associated with DEMOCRACY;
  • Another Country, a Singapore-Malaysia co-production that brings together the finest writers and performers from both sides of the Causeway to reflect on the history, culture and PEACE shared by two countries that were separated at birth;
  • Hotel, a stirring epic that observes Singapore's PROGRESS through the prism of one hotel room and its inhabitants over the past ten decades. A Singapore International Festival of Arts commission, this production is written by Alfian Sa'at and directed by Ivan Heng and Glen Goei; 
  • The Emperor's New Clothes, a brand-new pantomime directed by Pam Oei and scripted by Joel Tan, that adds a cheeky local twist to Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale about EQUALITY; and
  • A new production - presently a production a work in progress - examining the concept of JUSTICE.

“WR15 coincides, of course, with SG50,” said Ivan Heng, Artistic Director of W!LD RICE. “The entire country will be caught up in a year-long celebration of what makes us uniquely Singaporean, and we plan to join in the festivities in our very own W!LD way.”

“Inspired by the stars of our flag, our goal is to give expression to the aspirations and values that have brought us thus far as a nation, and to understand them in the context of an increasingly complex modern society. Audiences can look forward to a surprising, thought-provoking and perhaps more nuanced celebration of who we are, and what it means to live in Singapore today.”

W!LD RICE's ‘imagiNATION’ season runs from April 2015 to April 2016.

The Little Company launches its biggest season ever with FIVE productions!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Mandarin)

Presented by SRT's The Little Company
11 - 29 Mar 2015
DBS Arts Centre - Home of SRT

Following the hugely successful English production in 2013, SRT's The Little Company presents the Mandarin version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the second instalment of our Trio-series featuring music and lyrics by the Laurence Olivier award-winning West-End musical theatre songwriting duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

On a trip into the forest, Goldilocks ventures into a seemingly uninhabited house. In the process of making herself at home, she turns the place into a gigantic mess! Little does she know that the house belongs to a family of three bears, who are not too pleased to witness her handiwork.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears reminds children not to fiddle with the belongings of others, lest there be consequences to bear.

If you loved the English version, don't miss the chance to join the cast as they bring your child on an exciting Mandarin journey through this timeless classic!
For group/school bookings of 20 tickets or more, please contact our Sales Executive, Catherine at 6733 8166 or catherine@srt.com.sg.

The Three Billy Goats GRuff

Presented by SRT's The Little Company
From 2 Apr 2015
DBS Arts Centre - Home of SRT

Following the hugely successful production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs, SRT's The Little Company presents the third and final instalment of its Trio-series featuring music and lyrics by the Laurence Olivier award-winning West-End musical theatre songwriting duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Honk! and Mary Poppins). Step into the magical, fairytale world of The Three Billy Goats Gruff - a musical that is guaranteed to be snortingly silly and full of giggles.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff (affectionately known as "Baby", "Middle" and "Big") graze happily together with their caretaker, Little Bo-Frilly. But one day, it dawns on them that they are in the middle of a horrible drought. As the grounds turn a dreadful shade of brown, they are slowly but surely running out food. Together, the gang makes the decision to cross a bridge to the other side of the valley, where lush green grass awaits.

Unfortunately, below the bridge lives a frightening troll that loves to feast on goats! Can they outsmart the monstrous, greedy troll in this fight for survival? Come on this adventure with catchy tunes and laugh-out-loud moments - this is one musical that has it all. Don't miss it!
For group/school bookings of 20 tickets or more, please contact our Sales Executive, Catherine at 6733 8166 or catherine@srt.com.sg.