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Unlike Some People

September 25, 2010

Event: Unlike Some People
Venue: Drama Centre Black Box
Run: 22nd Sept – 26th Sept 2010

A great background interview with the director Jonathan Lim can be found (here).

Many many years ago, when I was still struggling desperately with my piano lessons as a weak pianist (I still am a weak pianist, it’s just that I don’t take lessons anymore), I would occasionally have to face the insurmountable challenge of preparing a Beethoven piano sonata for my yearly exam.

Now the thirty-two Beethoven Piano Sonatas might perhaps be hailed as one of Western classical music’s greatest achievements, and rightly so due to the sheer complexity of Beethoven’s music and his complete mastery of the sonata form.

But to me, Beethoven’s sonatas were just some seemingly random compositions in three movements, with each movement taking on a slightly distinct mood from the other, and with the occasional motif being used and improvised upon ad nauseam.

That was what it was all about, as far as I was concerned.

At least Chopin’s Etudes seemed like they had a more definite melodic idea.

Beethoven’s sonata pieces just seemed very disparate to me and I just didn’t have the ability to make out what the big picture was.

I played the notes, but they didn’t really seem to make all that much sense to me from a holistic standpoint, even though I made very sure to play loud at ff and soft at pp, as and when the dynamics called for it.

And you know what my piano teacher said?

He said “You’re just playing the notes and following the dynamics blindly. You do not understand this piece at all.”

And he was completely right.

I had no idea what the piece was all about.

It was beyond my grasp.

And that’s basically the analogy I would make for “Unlike Some People”, the play put up by “Young & Wild”, a youth division of Wild Rice, and directed by Jonathan Lim of “Chestnuts” fame.

The play is written by Edward Albee, and the original title of the play is “The Lady from Dubuque”.

From the onset it felt to me like many of the actors were out of their depth and just weren’t able to bring out the full complexity of the script, either because they did not fully understand it, or because they just did not have the technical ability to reflect all the subtle nuances in the play.

As with all good plays, this was a play that had strong and complex characterisation, which called for character portrayals to be multi-dimensional.

There were instances where the actors were able to show violent emotion as was called for, but to me it felt like they did it in a vacuum and there didn’t seem to be a holistic coherence in their characterisation throughout the play, in the sense that they did not take a big-picture view of character portrayal.

My friend said that I am, as always, a very fussy and picky person, always having very precise notions of what things should be like…and I think he may be right.

I am fully aware that this is a “Young & Wild” production, and the cast are relative newbies to theatre, and thus expectations should be managed.

But I’m just expressing my honest views, that’s all.

I really do not mean to discourage or put down any of the cast members, but I honestly felt that this particular play might have been a little bit out of reach for them, and perhaps a slightly less ambitious or less complex script could have been chosen instead.

As for the play itself, I certainly thought it very strange.

Bizarre, even.

(Yes, it doesn’t take very much to stump me.)

I cannot reveal anything about the plot, as it would give away the whole “surprise” element that is so crucial to the play.

However, I was just wondering what the main focus of the play was.

Was it a) the relationship between the six friends, or b) the relationship between Sam and Jo, or c) the strange relationship between Jo and the lady from Dubuque?

Anyways, the play is certainly a very demanding one, with plenty of character complexities, and thus requiring a great deal of ability to pull off.

The closing lines had all the makings of a classic theatre moment, but for some reason I just didn’t get it.

Lastly, I felt the original title of “The Lady from Dubuque” would have been more apt, but perhaps it was the director’s intention to have the play focus more on the relationship between Sam and Jo, rather than the curious incident involving the lady from Dubuque.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2010 5:32 pm

    it does not take too long to learn good piano playing if you have a good piano lesson `-`


  1. Review: “Unlike Some People” By Young & Wild « Random Musings
  2. Jeremy’s “Buttons in the Bread” Theatre Accolades 2010! « Buttons In The Bread

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