I just realized I’ve seen 3 plays in the past 3 weeks but written nothing about them.
The Physicists (Friedrich Durrenmatt) (luna-id production at DBS Arts Centre): I’m a little tired of Cold War “our knowledge will be the death of us because we can’t be trusted to use it properly” themes by now, but that isn’t Durrenmatt’s fault. Anyway, I still enjoyed The Physicists for the most part. I found the directing especially clever in the little sequences which began and ended each act, where the cast ran around madly under strobe lighting (to produce that “frozen with each flash” effect that I’m still not tired of), banged random implements around Stomp-style, and lit matchsticks in rapid syncopation at various points on the darkened stage to simulate a chase through tunnels, all to music that sounded like Autechre. Acting was generally competent enough, but there was a rather stark divide in quality between the local actors and the Caucasian actors – the latter brought a presence, a range, and frankly, a “not sounding fake while talking”ness to their roles which the local actors weren’t able to.
godeatgod (Haresh Sharma) (The Necessary Stage, Marine Parade CC): I don’t doubt that this play’s attempt to grapple with serious questions that everyone should think about is sincere and heartfelt. However, its failure to ask those questions in terms any more complex than a mediocre GP essay¹ meant that it was unable to sustain my attention for very long. In a worrying continuation of themes from the previous play, the only actors here who didn’t irritate me were the foreign ones, Rody Vera from the Philippines, and Eriko Wada from Japan.
The Vagina Monologues (Eve Ensler) (New Voice Company, The Arts House): Okay, this rocked much more than I’d expected it to. It didn’t equate celebrating vaginas to scenting the room with patchouli as you enjoy your Rampant Rabbit, although that “If your vagina wore clothes, what would it wear?” question did rather make me cringe. In general, though, it was well-written, entertaining without hamming it up too much, and all three women (Nora Samosir, Anita Kapoor, Cynthia Lee Macquarrie) pulled off their respective roles with panache. The audience was also pleasantly responsive when urged to yell “CUNT!” (We wondered later whether, in the Chinese adaptation of the play staged here earlier this year, people were asked to yell “CHEE BYE!”, and whether they obliged.)
¹ GP stands for General Paper, a component of the A’level exams in Singapore which requires argumentative essay-writing.