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On This Emerald Hill

October 1, 2011

Event: On This Emerald Hill
Venue: Chamber @ The Arts House
Run: 14-19 Sep; 26 Sep-1 Oct 2011
Written & performed by: Jonathan Lim
Directed by: Christina Sergeant

We may know Jonathan Lim as a comedian from his Chestnuts series and the hilarious lines he delivers on script and stage (apart from the other ‘hats’ he wears), but in this tribute to two landmark plays, you will find another side to his performance. Yes, it had its funny moments, but there was something deeper as well. And certainly, his performance was truly commendable as he distinctly played 4 characters, with 2 mains, Emily Gan and Mr Leow. One could easily recognise each character when they appeared, and Jonathan had successfully transited between each seamlessly.

In this “mashup” of the two plays Emily of Emerald Hill and The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole (borrowing more from the latter), we are moved forward to current times, where our Emily and Mr Leow are placed in a setting fast-forwarded more than 20 years (since the plays were written), with the latter facing the same problem again, 20 years on. Even though the content isn’t exactly new, it was still engaging in its own way and nicely weaved together. I have personally not read Coffin. The underlying theme that was highlighted a couple of times was that nothing really changes. The surroundings, terms, references, etc. change, just like how even the cemetery becomes “relevant” to the living society with its en-blocs and lease terms, but beneath it all, the constitution and structure don’t. Yes, there will be the occasional “exceptions” but conformity and compromise reigns in the end. And sometimes, living out these exceptions, cost. I can’t help but relate Emily’s end in the original Emily to the reason of why the coffin was too big for the hole. It reminds us of how we all eventually fade away.
To be honest, I foresaw that Emily would eventually offer a space in her family plot for Mr Leow. I believe that was the logical solution to the problem, besides the “sacrilegious” act of transferring the body to a standard size coffin. There are always more than one way to solve a problem.

So are the plays still relevant today? Yes. I believe this was a fair tribute to the two plays and one could not help but applause Jonathan Lim for his amazing acting skills as he switched effortlessly between roles. A friend even commented that it was like he had split personalities.


There are only 2 shows left on 1 Oct and you can purchase tickets here.

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