“Sins and Salvation”
Reviewer: Muhammed Faizad Bin Salim
Performance: 13 May 2015
In a play that primarily comprises five vignettes that centre around Geylang – the one locale in Singapore which can simultaneously boast of having a rich history of Malay heritage and at the same time play host to a seedier underbelly of what is known to many as the nation’s red-light district – some narratives are more memorable than others.
The standout storylines were the ‘MYID’ sections (the longest of the five vignettes on offer and interspersed with the others in between) – detailing the efforts of a government agency in trying to relocate the residents and businesses of Geylang to make way for a new development in the area known as Casa Geylang – and the TVB-esque ‘Brothers in the Net’ section which portrayed the trials and tribulations of a gang leader and his triad of men as they surround themselves in vice rings of prostitution and drugs.
Generally the space in which the play was performed is not ideal for a full-fledged theatre performance – it has a very small stage with no proper rigs for lights and it does not have the traditional wings on stage left and right for the actors to make their entrances and exits, resulting sometimes in awkward blocking choices. Worst of all, the space lacks sound-proofing and when a public announcement is made in the mall that houses the space, the audience is rudely distracted from the production. But despite these challenges, the ensemble still manages to press on and deliver fairly committed performances. In fact, I believe that not having access to the technology usually afforded by technical production elements, works in their favour and allows the audience to focus on the acting and the quality of the script.
The production sure was wild – there were heaps of sexual innuendos thrown at the audience, some through double entendres and others through not so subtle physical actions and the audience (one suspects they are primarily made up of friends, family and supporters of the cast) lap up every single of one of them.
As if that isn’t enough, the audience is assaulted with over-the-top performances that were punctuated by F-bombs galore and lots of screaming and yelling that meander into amateur theatre-making territory. There is even a cross-dressing element thrown in but one questions the overall intent and purpose of such a directorial choice (apart from engendering cheap laughs) as there is obviously no dearth of female cast members to choose from.
Despite the hits and misses, it is ultimately very promising still to note new, young talents coming to the fore, despite the fact that there is still much room for them to grow and find their footing as actors. Principally, they must practise restraint in order to turn in more nuanced performances.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
GEYLANG by Young & W!ld
13 – 17 May 2015,
10 Square @ Orchard Central
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Faizad is busy molding the future of the nation but on some nights he manages to escape the humdrum of reality to immerse himself in the world of theatre.