Reviewer: Casidhe Ng
Performance: 13 January 2017
Returning from a hiatus, dance duo Ah Hock and Peng Yu present “Skin Tight” as part of 2017’s M1 Fringe Festival, a dance piece that sports zentai suits as symbols of the eradication of identity. As we enter the space, we see Ah Hock (AH) and Peng Yu (PY) clad in office wear, occupied with everyday movements: one is walking slowly on the spot, the other is making finger gestures whilst Joey Chua, (their fellow collaborator) is lying silently on the ground. Accompanied by Zai Tang’s mellow music, there is lightness and a calm serenity indicative of purposelessness, before the trio begin a series of similar movements they execute in sync. They walk forward, then backward, with Chua acting as a counterpoint to the duo. Despite moments of synchronized dancing, the piece is triggered by the chemistry of AH and PY as one entity vis-a-vis Chua’s individual presence (as opposed to an ensemble of three).
The initial scenes portrays the humdrum of normal society, that of an office with a booming voice praising a certain “Employee 365”, or snapshots of another worker’s attempt to take a break from forced productivity. These come across as slightly derivative and somewhat overbearing. What follows, however, is a charged and engaging physical exploration of self-erasure and the intimacy between the duo.
PY dons his zentai mask, shedding the office suit to a complementary rhythmic soundtrack and conveying the abandonment of the self to full dramatic effect. Yet, the piece is at its best when the duo mobilise their chemistry. As they experiment with a newfound anonymity, AH and PY wrestle with their office shirts that are buttoned together, shifting and contorting in various ways, before becoming a singular entity through a series of movements. This sequence reflects their primal, instinctive tendencies as they become inter-dependent. Their shared intimacy further translates into the multimedia presentation, as we see the zentai-wearing trio roam around Singapore, dancing as a whole in the central business district and displaying affection on the MRT, simultaneously questioning whether or not such acts may be permitted if their identities were known.
All in all, Skin Tight’s strength lies in its simplicity: the lighting and sound are minimal, complementing the choreography when necessary and adding further tension to unnerve the audience in moments of shock and intrigue. It might not provide answers, nor ask a myriad of questions, but the ones it does ask are pertinent. The one thing you may fault Skin Tight for is not going far enough with the fronts it interrogates.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
SKIN TIGHT by Ah Hock and Peng Yu
13 – 14 January 2017
Esplanade Theatre Studio
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Casidhe Ng is currently serving the nation but takes time out of his civilian hours for theatre.