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Alfian Sa’at’s “Sex. Violence. Blood. Gore”

October 10, 2013
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SexViolenceBloodGore1Event: “Sex. Violence. Blood. Gore” by Alfian Sa’at (presented by Red Pill Productions)
Venue: Blackbox @ Goodman Arts Centre
Run: 5th & 6th Oct 2013

Bringing Sexy Back

I must admit I don’t yet know too much about Red Pill Productions as it is a rather new theatre company, but what a way to kick things off by staging Alfian Sa’at’s “Sex. Violence. Blood. Gore”!

The play, which is essentially a collection of short scenes, was first written and performed in 1999 when Alfian was still only 22, and was performed under highly secretive circumstances.

It has also been staged in Melbourne as recently as last year by Australian theatre company MKA.

The version we got to see on Saturday consisted of five disparate scenes – one about a sexually-repressed Georgraphy teacher and her nephews, one about a pair of upper crust British colonial ladies and their discreet affairs with their maidservants, one about a pair of teens and a chance encounter with a pair of transvestites on an MRT train, one about a pair of Japanese WWII soldiers and their Singapore boy toy, and the last one about the life and times of Annabel Chong.

Apart from the obvious common refrain of sex, the scenes mostly attempt to bring out the issue of sexual repression in our conservative Singapore society, be it pertaining to different constructs such as gender, nationality, race, or social status.

There is a pervading sense of black humour through the play coupled with a heavy dose of the macabre, which gives one a constant unsettled feeling.

At times it even falls into the absurd.

The play is not an easy one to pull off, and the cast puts in a valiant attempt to capture the nuances required for the play to work.

The costumes – essentially white leotards with little red crosses plastered at strategic anatomic locations – were slightly discomforting to see (maybe that was the whole point), although I thought the sound design worked brilliantly throughout the play.

I thought the last segment on Annabel Chong, or Annabel Lee rather (based on what the actor said), didn’t quite work for me as I didn’t quite make sense of the ending.

I’m not sure if this was an edited or abridged version of the original text, but in this particular performance, I was left scratching my head at the way it ended.

Nonetheless, despite the relative rawness and lack of polish in the production, it is rather heartening to see Red Pill Productions attempt to take on this challenging Alfian Sa’at piece as their first work.

This was certainly no cakewalk.

Here’s looking forward to greater things in store from them.

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