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“Animal Farm” by Wild Rice

May 5, 2010
by

Event: Animal Farm
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Run: 21st Apr – 8th May 2010

There was so much publicity for this production I figured I had to at least pen down some of my thoughts on this.

Now sadly I’ve never read the book before, and neither was I too familiar with the entire story of “Animal Farm”, so I just went with an open mind.

There was no reference point for me to do any comparison or referencing with, which might or might not have been a good thing.

This production is directed by Ivan Heng and is staged as a commemoration of W!ld Rice’s 10th anniversary.

Apparently this is the third time this particular production is being staged in Singapore, and the only two actors who have starred in all three productions are Lim Yu-Beng and Pam Oei.

This particular production’s cast includes Lim Yu-Beng as Napoleon, Pam Oei as Squealer, Gene Sha Rudyn as Snowball & Benjamin, Yeo Yann Yann as Clover and Denise Tan as Mollie & Moses, amongst others.

I felt that stylistically, the play pretty much echoed what was portrayed in the promotional posters and flyers, i.e. the raw, carnal, sinister feel.

Certain scenes or moments in the play may have come across as being rather abstract, but I guess that was consistent with the overall thrust of the production.

Not much in terms of props and sets, but the main draw was the way in which the actors expertly used every inch of their bodies to depict the idiosyncracies and nuances of the various animals such as the pigs, horses, birds, donkeys, etc.

One thing of note is that this is probably one of the most physically demanding plays I have ever seen (what with all the animal imitations), and hats off to every single actor for pulling off such fine performances night in and night out.

At some points it almost resembled a dance performance, as there was so much rigorous movement involved.

You could see that the actors were visibly exhausted after the performance.

Another thing which I really enjoyed about this production, which I have not come across in any other productions I’ve attended, was the discussion session immediately after the performance.

The entire cast plus the musical director plus Alfian Sa’at (as moderator) came back on stage, seated in a panel, to answer any questions the audience may have had on the production.

I thought it was a wonderful thing to do, cos it gave the audience a chance to interact with the cast, and for the cast to relate their experiences and challenges faced whilst working on the play to the audience.

It gave us valuable insight into the staging of the play, and helped us understand and appreciate the play that much better.

I thought it was very generous of the cast to take time off to share with the audience.

Well done W!ld Rice!

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