Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Aladdin at MBS - Running till 1 Sep 2019

Disney's Aladdin has finally opened in Singapore, and the feedback has been tremendous! With sumptious sets and costumes, beautiful singing and breathtaking dancing and stunts, this production takes us back to a magical fairyland as told in the classic Arabian Nights. Check out Hawk Liu's report on the media call and gala night below, and see for yourself what all the excitement is all about!

Want to see more? Check out the official trailer from MBS below!

Also, check out our exclusive production images on our Facebook Group:

So hesitate no more, get your tickets at SISTIC (https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/aladdin0919) NOW!  

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Review: 'Happy Waiting' by Grain Performance and Research Lab

Happy Waiting by Grain Performance and Research Lab
12 July, 2019 at Stamford Arts Centre
Review by Jeremy Lee
Photo credit: Gordon Tan

Happy Waiting, playwright Beverly Yuen’s follow-up to 2016’s Sleeping Naked, is a marked contrast to the effort of three years ago.

While Sleeping Naked was a lively domestic drama about a family with dubious sleeping arrangements, Happy Waiting, directed by Bernice Lee, is a far more languid affair.

Yuen was inspired by Samuel Beckett’s seminal Waiting For Godot, and that should give us a clue as to what’s in store -- after all, in that 1953 existentialist masterpiece, two men are waiting for the titular “Godot” who never arrives.

Vicky (Sonia Kwek), our heroine in Happy Waiting, is similarly waiting in vain for her husband. However, unlike the heroes of Waiting For Godot, not only does she not have a companion in her wait, she doesn’t even have freedom of movement -- she spends the whole play stuck in a “mound” with a curious red lights in front that make it look like a spaceship unsuccessfully playing hide-and-seek in a mountain.

In fact, we don’t even see her face in the first half of the play -- just her stiletto-clad feet and her hands. It’s as if the long wait has caused her to lose herself in the “mound” -- of her own existential angst and aspirations -- so much so that even her body has been subsumed and become inconsequential.

We do hear Vicky’s voice though -- devoid of a companion, she merrily speaks to herself with relentless chirpiness and unbelievingly boundless optimism despite her bleak situation.

Kwek does an admirable job in what must be a physically uncomfortable role, but her constant cheerfulness amid a seemingly hopeless wait starts to become grating after a while. How refreshing it would have been to hear Vicky say something sarcastic, or angry even, just to give us a glimpse into an inner world of frustration and confusion -- but all we get is her prattling on about what she is doing today, talking to her absent husband about banal topics like dinner plans, or reminiscing about the past.

Luckily, Kwek has an appealing presence and winning smile (at least when we can see her face), as such we can almost forgive Vicky’s robotic cheerfulness. The only hint at her despair comes when, in a drunken stupor, she guffaws at her own joke for a little too long and a little too hard, and crosses the line between laughing and crying.

And thankfully, while Vicky is incapable of freedom of movement but very capable of yakking away, a man occasionally appears to break the monotony -- not her husband, alas, but a mysterious and mostly silent dancer named Bobo (Neo Yan Zong) who is just the opposite: Incapable of more than grunts but very capable of moving around.

Who is Bobo? Is he an extension of Vicky’s thoughts? Or is he a knight in shining armour who will eventually rescue Vicky from eternal solitude and the audience from our languor? It’s not fully explained, and we guess he’s up to us to interpret.

But at least Neo’s dancing is spellbinding -- when he appears, he enchants in a variety of styles and costumes, and makes the wait for his next appearance worth it.

And perhaps Bobo, just like the characters that appear to distract our protagonists in Waiting For Godot, is the manifestation of the beauty but transience of life that passes us by, rendering our existence fruitless: In the end, there’s a glimmer of hope when he finally notices Vicky and moves towards her -- in his attention, will she find meaning and something else to obsess over? But he pulls away, and we are left disappointed when her tedium repeats itself again the next day.

For Happy Waiting, like Waiting For Godot, is about the frivolous hopes of man and how ultimately inconsequential we end up being. It’s admittedly a tough theme to appeal to a local audience, and we have to hand it to Grain Performance and Research Lab for tackling it.