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“Something New, Something Old” by FaithWorks

January 29, 2011
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Event: “Something New, Something Old” – A Double-Bill by FaithWorks
Venue: Drama Centre Black Box
Run: 27th Jan – 29th Jan 2011

As part of FaithWorks’ 10th anniversary celebration, they have put up a double-bill entitled “Something New, Something Old”, which runs for 3 nights and features Dora Tan’s “Getting Married With Dad Dead Next Door” and Henry Seow’s “The Bench”, and Ilkosa and I were pleased to have had attended the performance on opening night.

The first play by Dora Tan was a dark comedy, that centres around the curious event of an elder daughter returning home to her family with her British boyfriend just for a few hours in order to go through the formality of having a customary Chinese wedding before flying back off to the UK again…but unbeknownst to them, her father is lying dead in his bedroom.

I thought the play was well-written, as it brought out certain issues, such as how the elder daughter is marrying her British boyfriend just for the sake of escaping from her family in Singapore, and how it parallels with her mother’s predicament of having married her father but yet having little or no love for him.

It was apparent from the play that both the elder daughter and the mother had entered into marriage without really having true love for their partner, and this contrasts ironically with the younger sister, who seemed to have true love for the man that she was seeing for awhile, but the sad thing was that he was a married man.

The play also tried to bring out the issue of modernity and how the young in today’s society tend to be all too quick to forsake their traditional Chinese roots and customs, and be ever-ready to embrace Western culture…although this issue was perhaps not so fully fleshed out in the play.

I liked the clever little twist at the end when it is revealed that the mother knew all along about the father’s death, whereas we the audience thought that she was going to be the last person to know.

(Ilkosa would give a different take though, as she says it was apparent to her from the start that the mother already knew.)

It seems to me that the play was a bit too preoccupied with handling the delicate situation of the father being dead in the next room and how the various family members took turns to individually find out about it, but didn’t dare to let anyone else know that they had found out.

As such, after the mid-way point it felt like the play became more plot-driven than character-driven, and almost turned farce-like in some ways.

But of course, the contrast between the mother’s reaction towards the dead fish as compared to her reaction towards the dead father did serve to highlight how little love she truly had for her husband.

Lastly, I can’t help but wonder if the “grandma” role in the play was all that necessary?

It seemed to me like the grandma did not contribute much to the development of the play at all, and thus I would question if her role was truly necessary.

The first thing that struck me about “The Bench” was that it was certainly rather strange, from a structural standpoint.

The main idea of the play is that everything centres around a single park bench, and it chronicles the lives of various groups of people – a homeless man, an unhappy family, a couple in love, a young schoolgirl who can’t find love, a father-daughter relationship, etc.

So one by one, the different groups will come on, have their conversations on the bench, and then walk off.

The happens for one round, whereby all the groups are introduced, and then the next cycle begins…only this time round things start to get a bit more complex and we get to see a bit more conflict being presented.

Ilkosa and I were half-expecting the stories of the various groups to intertwine at some point in the play, but no, the stories remained stand-alone, and after the second cycle, the play ended.

“The Bench” was probably a collection of vignettes with the common motif of a park bench, rather than a play in the real sense of the word.

I thought the individual stories were rather well done.

Joshua Lim certainly stole the show with his excellent comic delivery.

Also, I don’t really know how to put this in a way that it doesn’t sound the least bit offensive, but…I thought the actor who played the homeless man really looked the part.

In conclusion, I certainly thought it was an enjoyable night of theatre, and although I had not previously heard of FaithWorks before, I want to congratulate them on their 10th anniversary and I look forward to catching more of their productions in the near future.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ilkosa permalink
    February 2, 2011 9:40 am

    I thought the actor who played the homeless man really looked the part.

    Actually, maybe as Faithworks is “theatre for the community”, was wondering if they really got people from the general community to take part. The man with the stroke was quite convincing too.

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