Reviewer: Lee Min Jie
Performance: 21 July 2016
A painfully slow, but purposefully so, play about death that sets you thinking.
A lonesome light goes on and off.
I am intrigued and attempt to take in the space in between the flickering. A cup of water sits on a long rectangular box and a white shirt hangs loosely from a noose.
The orange light continues to flicker.
I am bored and twiddle with my thumbs. I cross my legs, I uncross them. 15, 16, 17… I lose track of how many times that light has flickered.
That flickering shows no sign of stopping.
I am frustrated by the lack of action. Quietly disquieting. It is unsettling to hear only the sounds of your breathing and swallowing. Someone behind me clears his throat to break the silence.
Melissa Leung Hiu Tuen enters, collapses and exits. Leung does this three times.
Repetition at a plodding pace seems to be the modus operandus. I still myself and let the quiet wash over me. I wonder if this is the play’s attempt to take me through the different stages of grief. The journey of recovery from the loss of a loved one is long and arduous.
Leung delivers a strong and sincere performance evidenced by the way she commands our attention. Without uttering a single word, she manoeuvres slowly but skilfully. The only words you hear come from a recording. Like an audio journal, that voice states date, time, and event. The voice is monotonous and passionless. That voice asks for help but does not express helplessness. This is enough to stir my sympathies for those who are unable to carry out the minutest of daily tasks by themselves.
A gripe about the position of the subtitles. It is located perpendicularly to the stage and heads have to be turned at an awkward angle to be able to read it. It also flashes at the space where the stage cue operators are, illuminating them unintentionally.
Lighting is another aspect of the play that has made its presence keenly felt. The stark juxtaposition between the harsh orange light and the soft white ones are disconcerting. It is eerie to catch a play about death and see the shadow of a lady with long hair in a dress.
The final scene is poignant; well-positioned light outside the window comes to rest on the lonesome shirt. Perhaps each glass of water that we drink in the days ahead of us will not only give us life but also the strength to accept the things that we cannot change and the courage to change the things that we still can.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
FLEET by The Theatre Practice
21 – 31 July 2016
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Lee Min Jie is a third-year Theatre Studies major at the National University of Singapore who is drawn to Theatre’s ability to immerse one in a world carefully conjured up by artists.