“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
Reviewer: Christian W. Huber
Performance: 25 January 2018
Forked by Jo Tan, staged at the 14th edition of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, explores the idea of staying true to one’s identity no matter how hard society impresses one to be and act a certain way.
Tan showcases promising skills as a playwright in her maiden full-length play, and succeeds in making this reviewer empathise with the actors’ dilemma of breaking away from their racial stereotypes and self-identity issues.
Effectively directed with enthusiastic young and fresh talents on stage, strong performances come from Ethel Yap and Chang Tingwei, who play Jeanette Peh and Yan Yan respectively. Jeanette is a young, idealistic Singaporean with dreams to make it big in the entertainment world, but gets rudely slapped in the face for sounding too “English” at the drama school she’s enrolled in. Yan Yan is the other ‘wannabe’ actress in the class, who convincingly plays up her Asian stereotype for eventual fame. Their ease and versatility in adopting their characters’ various accents (from Jeanette’s quasi-American, Singlish and Queen’s English, to Yan Yan’s China Chinese, proper neutral English, and the perceived Chinese accent stereotypes) illustrate how difficult it is for actors to find their ‘true self’ in the acting world. It also makes for a mostly funny 90-plus-minute piece.
This reviewer’s favourite moments are the scenes where the enigmatic but crabby acting teacher Monsieur Laroche (played as a voiceover) challenges the class to stop pretending, and to find their true voice. The voiceover represents a God-like being of authority or voice of reason that strips the mask off the protagonist, and forces her to build herself up again.
The scenes involving Jeanette’s love interest – who also pretends to be somebody he is not – similarly tackle issues of racism and self-identity in a foreign land. However, these scenes are a distraction from the main plotline about two Asian actresses’ journey of discovery and fulfillment of their goals.
That Forked continues to be developed under The Finger Players script mentorship programme shows promise and commitment for the piece: to grow and find itself more succinctly into a longer run as a standalone production.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
FORKED by Jo Tan
25 – 27 January 2018
NAFA Studio Theatre
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Christian is a C42 Boiler Room 2016 playwright, and enjoys being an audience member to different mediums of the arts. He finds arts invigorating to the soul, and truly believes that the vibrant arts scene has come a long way from its humble beginnings.