“The much-needed conversation”
Reviewer: Teo Dawn
Performance: 22 January 2016
Upon entering the Centre 42’s Black Box, audience members are gifted with a flower each. Everyone is invited to make a wish with their small gift of nature and to drop it into the basket actor Sharda Harrison has in her hands.
It is a simple and gentle introduction of what is to come in the next 60 minutes within the confines of that cosy space.
Bi(cara) is a performance by Pink Gajah Theatre, as part of the M1 Fringe Festival commission of 2016. It is a new piece of work based on a talk called Why Do We Do What We Do? by zoologist Bernard Harrison. Questioning and challenging the status quo between man and animals, the performance reflects upon our society today in terms of human behaviour as well as our history and myths.
Just like the issues it is trying to tackle, the performance is multi-faceted with visuals by Sean Harrison and layered with an intricate weaving of the actress’ own personal experiences with animals as well as stories of fictionalised characters written by Harrison herself with co-writer Sabrina Dzulkifli.
From a cleaner lady that is crazy about cats to a zookeeper that is traumatized by his parents’ failed love, both characters turn to animals for companionship. These characters prove to be endearing and broke hearts with their plights of loneliness.
Harrison impresses with her physicality and characterisation as well as her interludes of dances and movements. I am drawn to the honesty as well as the beauty brought about through the combined language of speech and body. With a minimal set, it is easy to keep my attention on her and be part of the on-going conversation happening in between the lines.
One magical moment is the “shedding” of clothing in a dance of fluid movement, like a snake losing its skin. It reminds me of how similar we can be to species that seem so different from us. In subtle ways, from beginning to end, these realizations and questions keep coming into my mind.
And I think that is precisely what makes this a very successful performance.
Poetic and mesmerising, Bi(cara) tugs at heartstrings and is the promising start of a much needed conversation that needs to take place in our world today. Leaving more questions rather than concrete answers, this is a performance that will stay with me for many years to come.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
BI(CARA) by Pink Gajah Theatre
21 – 24 January 2016
Black Box, Centre 42
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Teo Dawn is currently a student with the Intercultural Theatre Institute. She has been in theatre since the age of 14, working on theatre productions as an actress and as a stage manager. Dawn is also a writer with Poached Magazine, PopSpoken as well as Scene.SG.