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August 7, 2011

photo credit: Irfan Kasban

“The world is not colour blind.” – LTC Victor de Souza

And so it is, in this racially charged play. Playing the race card, or not.

“Charged” – a word that signifies prosecution, a word that signifies tension. I probably couldn’t identify with the context so well as a woman since I never went through NS, but the setting and premise isn’t the focus. Nevertheless, it was a choiced one. What else would prompt a nationwide prompt into addressing the latent tension that could make or break the peace we have sensitively strove to protect? A daring exposition of the politically incorrect, a verbalisation of things/stereotypes that we know, but never speak. Yes, it might be an exaggeration at points but theatre allows that, exploring the “what-if”s and “what-not”s.

Personally, I was expecting to feel more emotionally charged by the show. It could be due to the setting, or my expectations were highly-raised with the great reviews before. Nevertheless, it was a clever way that it was presented, different accounts by different people; a matter of you say, I say. Which is true? Which is not? Whose side should we take? And Tze Chien writes good lines.

It was still a mystery as to what actually transpired between the two recruits to lead to their deaths and why it happened. Was it a moment of insanity? Was it a racial conflict? Was it a matter of taunt? No one knows. But that just brings home the point that “anything goes” and the truth became not so important anymore. We hear what we want to hear, and we’re charged to make our own conclusions. And in the midst of all that cover-up, I believe the only truthful moment came when both mothers met. It might have started off as a means to pacify the public, and for show, but what mattered most at that point wasn’t about race or politics, but two people seeking and sharing their hearts and a common grief, a mother’s grief.

On the bright side, it makes you realise how difficult it is to keep the peace in a multi-racial society, and we shouldn’t take all these for granted. But then again, all these pent-up expressions… Try as we might, humans tend to be biased one way or another, whether consciously or subconsciously.

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