Reviewer: Casidhe Ng
Performance: 28 October 2017
Halloween Date is a strangely difficult thing to describe. We are invited into the Haque Centre of Acting and Creativity, writer and co-producer Chris Holland greet us with great hospitality. We are then seated in “Hell’s Kitchen”, offered a menu of food and drinks, and opportunities to pick our favorite costume accessories. The space is decorated lavishly with posters of skeletons and vampires, and the Halloween atmosphere is greatly enhanced by Holland’s enthusiastic pre-show banter.
Once the show begins, however, the lively mood gives way to something less pleasant. The string of loosely connected narratives surrounding a man named Bill (Ratish Balakrishnan), including his attempt at proposing to an acquaintance, his brother’s encounter with the Devil, and a situation in which he is turned into a woman by Satan himself. They all sound interesting in theory, but tap little into the comedic potential these circumstances entail.
Richel Hidalgo, Susie Tyrie and Tanvi Kothary, who portray a waitress, the female version of Bill, and an angel who greets Bill in the afterlife respectively, are ultimately the most fully formed as characters. One of the highlights of Halloween Date is undoubtedly Hidalgo’s deliberately forced and contrived attempt at promoting sponsors, one in particular giving way to a pretty hilarious sketch depicting Donald Trump (Marcus Bjoerkqvist).
Furthermore, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact effects of the piece: there’s glorification of sexism, misogyny and chauvinism with the intent of subverting and punishing it, but it all comes across as one hot mess. Similarly, the other performances don’t particularly anchor the show, and the satire and self-awareness doesn’t quite make up for the lack of jokes.
As a whole, it is apparent the people behind Halloween Date prioritise atmosphere, mood and the occasion: it’s all about getting together, having a drink or two and enjoying a bit of fun for the evening. They nail the campiness and tackiness that make Halloween such an enjoyable time of the year, so it’s a little disappointing that the theatrics, which have great potential, take away rather than enhance the experience.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
HALLOWEEN DATE by Maria Theresa R. Alvarado and Chris Holland
28 & 29 October 2017
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Casidhe Ng is currently serving the nation but takes time out of his civilian hours for theatre.