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Short + Sweet 2010 (4)

July 31, 2010

It was a “tough” choice among the last 10 semi-finalists. Generally, I would say the plays weren’t too bad, but I didn’t like the gay undertones of some (some too contrived). And some needed more “punch”. This is going to be a long post.

Set just after the war where a Jap soldier seeks out his once Chinese male servant/slave to make peace (as the title suggests). But the latter had come, undecided whether to kill him or not. It would save him from the shame of having been labeled a traitor. It wasn’t too bad, but I felt it was a bit “forced” with the gay undertones, the reason for that peace-making where the Jap thanked the Chinese man for changing how he looked at Chinese. Was the writer trying to find some redeeming factor for the Japs? Were both parties seeking closure?

Bringer of Light:
This was not bad, except it could have come across stronger. A story of Ho Chi Minh having a debate with legendary French chef, Escoffier, in the kitchen of London’s Carlton Hotel where Ho Chi Minh was said to have worked. The peace-loving chef tries to talk Ho Chi Minh out of revolution, using references to food. An interesting 题材.

Dorothy Parker is in the Bath:
This was about a woman going on and on about herself and contemplating about suicide during her own party. It was funny at parts.

The premise/theme was promising, but unfortunately, as my friend commented, the delivery was less than perfect. Also, I’m not sure if there was meant to be a connection between the 2 scenes, which were supposed to be enactments of 2 pairs of couples from 2 separate paintings by Rene Magritte and Edward Hopper. Also, the theme of frames, was lost. It could have been more.

Just A Date:
A client of a prostitute wants to take her out on a date, promising her a future. Not exactly a twist, but the ending confronts men with their infidelity and how their promises will eventually come to naught. It actually ended well, as I hope to believe, with the man realising his folly and it is his last visit ever to a prostitute.

Short + Salty 2010:
You can say I’m biased but this was one of the better plays, written by Jeremy (yes, this Jeremy here). It’s a simple and clean satirical dig at the competition itself, which was funny. Can this really be true? But I must admit I preferred the original script, which I had the privilege of reading, but due to the direction and staging, it was cut and some parts changed, like the ending, which as acted out, a little too long. The director wanted to give a sustained effect, but slightly too sustained. And I preferred the original ending which gave the play a “full circle” feel and lets the conclusion sink it, probably even giving the hint of history repeating itself in future.

The Harrow:
As the name suggests, this was supposed to be the “harrowing” experience of the haunting memories of an interrogator in Afghan, with fleeting images of him (during those times) appearing intermittently (which I think wasn’t well planned for the effect) and a ghost of a prisoner’s son. It should have been more “harrowing” if that was the intended effect.

The Kill:
This was probably the best play of the night, with a funny and unexpected twist at the end. I was wondering how it was going to play out as it questions “what if you killed someone in a dream? Do you kill them in real life” I must admit my mind was skewed from Inception, so I was thinking more complex or sinister stuff. And the tomatoes! Ha!

The Tent:
This was ok, as 2 teachers finally express their feelings for each other at a school camp, through a prank card from the students, inviting the female teacher to the male teacher’s tent.

Women & Gays | 女人与 Gay:
A Chinese play exploring the similarities of women and gays in their sacrifices for men. It wasn’t too bad, but again, gay theme. The only issue is the abruptness of the transition from the more olden days as the prostitute competes with the huadan (花旦) for men’s affection and the modern day efforts to keep their men. I appreciated the attempt to show that it’s like a vicious cycle, from generation to generation.

Of course, at the end, I voted for Jeremy lah. The other play worthed voting for would be The Kill, but think that would surely be selected by the judges already.

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