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“Dealer’s Choice” by Pangdemonium! Productions

October 1, 2011

Event: “Dealer’s Choice” by Pangdemonium! Productions
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Run: 29th Sept – 16th Oct 2011

Pangdemonium’s follow-up to “Closer” staged earlier this year is the poker comedy “Dealer’s Choice”, and although both plays were written by English playwright Patrick Marber, they could hardly be any more different.

“Dealer’s Choice” is a testosterone-filled comedy revolving around six men and their gravitation (I shan’t use the word “love”) towards their weekly game of poker, played in the basement of a small Italian restaurant run by Stephen (Adrian Pang).

Structurally, the play is rather straightforward – the first two acts before intermission centre around the lives of the men and how they are all related to the restaurant.

It establishes their backgrounds, their dreams, their desires and their motivations, with particular respect to the upcoming poker game, which is their weekly ritual.

For instance, we know that Sweeney the cook (played brilliantly by Daniel Jenkins) wants to meet his young daughter Louise the next morning and is reluctant to join in that night’s poker game because he wants to get up early the next day, and also doesn’t want to lose his money.

Frankie the waiter (Keegan Kang), more lovable than boorish, dreams of being a professional poker player in Vegas.

Mugsy (Andy Tear) wants to open a new restaurant in Mile End, and gets ridiculed no end by everyone who hears of his new business plan.

The first two acts do a good job in building up to the eventual poker game climax, which is portrayed in its entirety in the remaining act after the interval.

I never knew how you could write an entire act of around 40 minutes with men just sitting around a table playing poker, but “Dealer’s Choice” pulled it off beautifully.

There are few things in life you could do in a room that could be more tense and potentially dramatic than a game of poker amongst friends with a large pot of money involved, and through the course of the game emotions run unbearably high, tempers are flared and the men go through the whole gamut of emotions.

It is apparent that the cast share an unmistakable sense of chemistry with one another.

I particular enjoyed the performances of Daniel Jenkins and Keegan Kang, although Adrian Pang also did marvellously in his portrayal of a meticulous restaurant owner who does his best to rein in his slight sense of resignation in dealing with his gambling-addicted son Carl.

The play was energetic and entertaining, although one had to get accustomed to the East End references and accents.

The play doesn’t necessarily say a whole lot, but if anything, I guess it explores the hopes, fears and insecurities of men, and also explores the nature and dynamics of male relationships.

I thought the set design by Eucien Chia was exquisite, and it was one of those rare times in a theatre that I instinctively turned to my friend at the start of the show and expressed my sheer delight at seeing the set.

“Dealer’s Choice”, while not particularly brilliant nor provocative, is definitely an entertaining production.

It features great performances, beautiful sets and a sound script.

If you’re looking for a good night out at the theatre, then this is probably your safest bet. (You know that obligatory gambling reference had to be thrown in sooner or later.)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jimmy Chew permalink
    October 8, 2011 7:20 pm

    Did you seriously like it? I found it really tiresome, slow, unfunny. The acting was forced, labourious, obvious. The actors couldn’t find light and shade let alone colour in their performances. I really can’t understand how people continue to like these sorts of performances… I bet you wouldn’t keep watching something like this if you could switch the channel.

  2. Jade Lee permalink
    October 8, 2011 7:21 pm

    I agree – boring – my boyfriend and I left at interval!

  3. Jade Chong permalink
    October 8, 2011 7:22 pm

    It was boring! Really boring. Boyfriend and I left at half time – waste of money.


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