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Jeremy’s Buttons Accolades 2012!

December 25, 2012

The Year That Was

Well, it’s that time of the year again.

Without further ado, let’s cut to the chase and head straight into this year’s accolades.

And as always, it’s pretty much tongue-in-cheek, so please do take it all with a mighty pinch of salt! =)

Most Enjoyable Productions:
1) “Romeo & Juliet” – Ivan Heng directs his first ever Shakespeare production and presents us with R&J like we’ve never seen it before. Never has a stage for such a big production been so bare, but the talented cast – not least of which includes leads Hansel Tan and Julie Wee – more than made up for it.

2) “男男自语 (A Language of Their Own)” – This dialogue-heavy Mandarin translation of Chay Yew’s play about a pair of lovers torn apart by HIV was lyrical, profound and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Forget about the comparisons between the Mandarin and English versions of the text – this was essentially an incredibly fluent meditation on the language of love.

3) “October” – There is something absolutely charming about watching a fresh cast of amateur actors giving their all with a sense of raw enthusiasm that is quite unlike most other theatre productions. Coupled with a solid script by Haresh Sharma, perhaps the only quibble was the fact that this was actually staged in the month of November.

4) “Roots” – Armed with just a pair of rakes and standing in a giant sandpit the entire time, Oliver Chong mesmerises audiences by taking them on an enchanting journey while attempting to trace his ancestral roots in a far-flung region of China. A performance worthy of at least a Best Actor nomination in next year’s Life Theatre awards. His ancestors would definitely have approved.

Least Enjoyable Productions:
1) “Utter” – Recollections are hazy, but I do recall having to sit laboriously through the first play (“Shadows in the Jungle”), which seemed to go on and on without a semblance of a dramatic arc. I don’t think there was a time when I had a stronger desire to bust my way out of the Play Den.

2) “National Broadway Company” – Saddled with the weight of being the centrepiece of the Esplanade’s 10th anniversary celebrations, this new musical written and directed by Ong Keng Sen fell surprisingly flat with a flimsy storyline attempting to hold it all in place, and its one-after-another-after-another style of presentation started to get tedious as early as midway through the first act. Few sparkling moments such as Benjamin Kheng’s inspired turn helped keep things fairly interesting, but NBC was hardly “A Chorus Line” by any stretch.

3) “The Perfection of 10” – An audacious attempt to mock and parody the conventions of theatre as well as challenge our notions of “perfection”. However, unfortunately there are only so many antics one can tolerate in a theatre before things start to get a bit grating. Sometimes you wonder if there really was a point to be made. Perhaps the tomatoes could have been put to better use in the hands of the audience.

The “Most Adventurous Staging Of A Musical” Award:
“Spring Awakening” and “Company” – A tie between Pangdemonium’s “Spring Awakening” and Dream Academy’s “Company”. Was marketing a dark and largely unknown rock musical featuring themes like suicide and incest the easier task, or was it easier to market a Sondheim musical (albeit his most well-known one)? Whatever it is, both Pangdemonium and Dream managed to position their respective shows remarkably well, and should be lauded for even having the guts to put these shows on in the first place.

The “Could Her Star Be Rising Any Faster?” and also the “No She Isn’t Going To…No She Can’t Be…Oh She Just Did!!!” Award:
Seong Hui Xuan
– Landing plum roles in big productions such as “Spring Awakening”, “Twelfth Night”, “La Cage aux Folles”, “Company” and “Crazy Christmas” all in one calendar year is an impressive feat by any standards, but it is all the more astonishing when considering Seong Hui Xuan is barely two years out of Laselle. It seems the sky’s the limit for this precocious young talent. And oh, her bedroom scene in “Company” had us holding our collective breaths. (You know which scene I’m talking about.)

The “Was I Maid For This Role?” Award:
Siti Khalijah
– Incredible talent, marvellous lady, and always a riot whenever she takes to the stage. Easily one of the most popular actresses on stage today. But isn’t it time someone else took the mantle of “Actress Most Likely To Be Cast As A Filipina Domestic Helper On Stage”? Just saying.

The “Best Use Of A Carpenters Song In A Play” Award:
“Singapore” – Hearing Siti Khalijah belt out the Carpenters’ “I Won’t Last A Day Without You” midway during the play was one of my favourite moments this year.

The “Wait…Is Anyone Else Getting Any Of This?” Award:
“godeatgod” and “The Impending Storm: The Silly Little Girl and the Funny Old Tree” – I can’t decide which play made me feel sillier – TNS’s “godeatgod” or TTP’s “The Impending Storm”. Half the time I kept looking around wondering to myself “Is anyone else getting any of this?” Definitely a humbling and mind-boggling experience all at the same time.

The “Balloon Contortionist’s Wet Dream” Award:
“Afar” – And by wet, we really mean wet. Apart from straining our necks to get a view of the English surtitles which were constantly being blocked by the swaying balloons, “Afar” was a utopia of large balloon sculptures anchored down by large blocks of ice, which eventually melted away leaving treacherous puddles that nearly caused a slip or two. Clever idea, but poorly executed on the night I was there. Was “Afar” all just a dream? Or maybe a game? All I can surmise is 那只是一场游戏一场梦.

The “Best Use Of Pandan Cake” Award:
“City Night Songs” and “Hansel & Gretel” – It’s not often you can say that the good ol’ pandan cake was used in a theatrical production, but this year featured two plays which made significant use of this most hallowed of confectioneries. The pandan cake was a notable device in “City Night Songs”, a play about seven friends negotiating their way through the treacherous landscape of urban city life, while in the W!ld Rice pantomime “Hansel & Gretel” the pandan cake was literally plucked off the Chef’s delectable hut and generously passed around the audience for them to take a bite.

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