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“godeatgod” by The Necessary Stage

March 27, 2012

Event: “godeatgod” by The Necessary Stage (as part of the NUS Arts Festival 2012)
Venue: UCC Theatre
Run: 24th – 25th Mar 2012

Mysterious Ways

Context is a funny thing.

The extensive exhibition at the foyer of the UCC made very sure you did not escape the fact that The Necessary Stage – one of Singapore’s most well-known and respected theatre companies – is currently celebrating its 25th year of existence.

The company has certainly come a long way thanks to the leadership of stalwarts Alvin Tan and Haresh Sharma, and it is with this context in mind that one enters the UCC Theatre to witness “godeatgod”.

“godeatgod” was written as a response to the devastating events of 9/11 (context again), and when you take into account the fact that it is TNS doing a play as a response to 9/11…well, there’s no reason whatsoever to dismiss the play.

Or is there?

For a play that bills itself as “a response to 9/11”, it seemed “godeatgod” did not dwell very much on 9/11 per se, although it did attempt to explore the universal theme of suffering and why God allows suffering in the world to happen.

I understand that deliberate attempts were made to assemble a multi-national cast, and this made it so much more resonant when an actor from India ruminates on the Mumbai attacks in ’08, or when an actor from Indonesia recalls the tsunami that hit his homeland in ’04, or when an actor from China laments the current state of Chinese society in light of the Yue Yue incident.

I liked the starting sequence, which tried to mimic an intro to a television show, very much.

Regardless of its relevance, I thought it was beautifully done.

There was also the other storyline of a wife grieving over the slow and inevitable death of her husband, though I found it hard to reconcile this particular storyline to the larger context of the play.

Truth be told, this was as much of the play as I could grasp.

Apart from the opening segment which resembled casual banter between actors and audience, and the segment somewhere at the two-third mark where the actors attempted to conduct an off-the-cuff dialogue session amongst themselves covering pertinent social and religious topics, I found it difficult to make sense of much of the play.

The scenes were largely surreal and disconnected, with heavy use of what I assume must have been metaphors, and dialogue which took quite a bit of effort to wrap one’s head around.

At times it almost seemed self-indulgent.

At the midway point in the play I instinctively turned to my sides and flashed that “Am I the only person here who’s not getting any of this?” look on my face.

Or was this the whole point of it all – to parallel this seeming absurdity with the fact that it is just as difficult for one to make sense of the suffering that happens all around us in the world today?

Personally, I thought the segments which impacted me most deeply were when they flashed the horrendous video clip of Yue Yue being run over, and when the actors all came out to conduct their informal dialogue session.

Those were the moments that connected with me most.

Apart from that, “godeatgod” certainly made for extremely uneasy viewing, especially when it decided to continue further with the surrealism after the informal dialogue session had ended.

It was the great Bob Dylan who cautioned us not to criticise what we can’t understand, and while on its 25th anniversary TNS presents a play which seems to throw up a plethora of difficult questions, it just might have left all the answers blowing in the wind.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Samantha permalink
    March 27, 2012 1:54 am

    My head hurts from the all the shouting in the play. And I thought inserting comical eyes on the photos is a tad bit inappropriate and unnecessary. All in all, I would agree with you that it was too surreal for me to comprehend.


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