Reviewer: Selina Chong
Performance: 7 July 2017
Verena Tay’s The Car is about a girl recollecting her growing years, exploring her relationship with her late father through ‘conversations’ with his beloved car. The Car is an emotionally charged ride: there are moments where you can almost feel the wind in your face, while other moments you feel as if your feet are leaden and your heart could cease. Throughout, there is love: the love amongst family, the love we demonstrate and the love we receive, love which elevates us and love which breaks our hearts.
Faizal Abdullah, who plays Car, has the unenviable task of literally personifying a piece of junk. While Car had its glory days, through most of the play, we see it as a sort of Creature to Father’s Frankenstein – a collection of parts held together by spit and goodwill. I was struck by how rusty Abdullah’s voice was rendered – kudos to Ryann Othniel Seng for exceptional sound design. The team also engaged dancer Lee Mun Wai to choreograph movements for Car. I enjoyed very much the physical subtlety with which Abdullah played Car; there were moments I expected to hear creaking joints as Abdullah lowered himself gingerly into ‘Drive’ mode.
The set is simple: stacked cardboard boxes Girl dismantles throughout the play, a physical manifestation of how her world must feel like it is being reshaped as she confronts her past to better understand her relationship with her father. The acting is strong throughout. As Car ages, Abdullah’s expressions casually transformed from a just-cocky-enough sneer to empathetic observer through the ages. Each actor also has to toggle between roles, and they do this effortlessly. In particular, Julie Wee’s portrayal of an eager Datsun drew giggles from the audience.
At the heart of The Car are three relationships: Girl-Father, Girl-Car, and Father-Car. Despite being only an hour, the production explores each of these three relationships deeply. Girl’s relationship with Father made me wonder if all girls have daddy issues; Girl’s relationship with Car represents for me the ugly side of love, when we act out in anger because we are smarting from what we perceive to be a lack of love; Father’s relationship with Car had me thinking about how much easier it is for some of us to demonstrate affection for objects than people. Essentially, the three relationships reflect to me my own perspectives about love. I left the show in a deeply reflective mood and will continue to chew over some of these ideas for some time.
Before the show, I had the privilege of speaking with Sabrina, a member of the Our Company team behind this production. She shared that everyone involved in the company has a full-time job and manages their production in their free time. In other words, Our Company is a labour of love. It is passionate teams like that which inspire me; these are encouraging times for theatre in Singapore.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
The Car by Our Company
5 – 7 July 2017
Esplanade Theatre Studio
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Selina loves the theatre and its ability to engage, enrapture, and entertain. The magic of the stage never ceases to create joy and wonder for her. The potential of the theatre to educate also dovetails with her teacher duties and she wishes more young people had time to watch a show instead of attend another tuition lesson.