SAF 2012: They Only Come At Night – Pandemic
Event: ‘They Only Come At Night : Pandemic’ by Slung Low (UK) (as part of Singapore Arts Festival 2012)
Venue: Old School @ Mount Sophia
Run: 22-27 May 2012
The synopsis piqued my interest, and with my own intrigue of vampires (thanks to “Interview with the Vampire”), it was with great anticipation that I went into vampire town (or so I thought) at Old School.
The story goes that us participants are the last survivors of a vampire pandemic (think “I Am Legend” maybe?), and all are gathered at the last human stronghold known, Old School. We were given light sticks, a map of “safe” areas and a transmitter (to hear dialogue from the actors). Following the marked-out route, we were shown little alcoves once holding refugees or make-shift living spaces, but where the safety barriers were breached and fake blood splashed here and there, with personal effects strewn haphazardly. Soon, we all ended up in the atrium where the performance began with the vampire hunters and the discovery of Chester Rickwood, the miraculous last survivor from the last commune based here, and who was by now hopeless. And so the actors start debating on their stand and measures to make this last stand, and the participants have to decide who to trust as the onset of vampires was imminent, with us being the big buffet. We were eventually led to the upper deck of the main hall to be seated, and where the last leg of the performance was carried out.
However, I was a little disappointed at how the whole thing turned out. Granted, maybe I was expecting something different, but I barely felt the “pandemic” going on, aside from the really warm and humid weather. No scary vampires too at that. It could be my fault that I had half-expected some “vampire” to appear at some point to scare us, but nothing of that sort, just some dark figure dashing here and there and a fight in shadow play between the hunters and vampires. The performance ended quite abruptly and I was like “was that it?”. I think most of us wasn’t sure that it had ended when it did or knew what to do after that until we were given the cue to leave.
I guess it was a mismatch of expectations for me and maybe the buildup wasn’t enough for us to sense the urgency or identify with what was happening or the characters. We were asked to look out for clues, but exactly to what end, I do not know. One thing also was it was never fully explained why more time was needed (for Chester?), which led me to think that maybe the show was more about overcoming one’s own fears and facing them, as did Chester eventually. But I thought the use of the transmitter was pretty savvy to surround us with the going ons, though more could have be “injected”.