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January 26, 2014

People1Event: “People” written by Joel Tan, presented by Creative Edge
Venue: Drama Centre Black Box
Run: 24th – 26th Jan 2014

I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet

I can’t remember the last time I attended so many inaugural productions of new theatre groups in rapid succession, but if anything, it’s an extremely encouraging sign that theatre-making in Singapore is alive and well.

“People” is the first production by new theatre group Creative Edge, which is a new division of I Theatre, and is a play depicting the lives of seemingly disparate Singaporeans and how they end up being somewhat linked to the effects of the 2011 Japan earthquake.

We are introduced to a myriad of characters – from a KTV hostess, to a nurse who ruminates about her line of work, to a handphone seller who reflects over a past love, to the relationship between a young man and his estranged taxi-driver father, to a couple visiting a modern art exhibition in New York.

Some of the characters’ exposures to the Japan earthquake are more apparent than others, and as the play progresses, we start to see how some of the individual lives are inextricably linked with one another.

The play utilises a fairly sizeable cast of nine, and overall the acting surpassed expectations, with actors like Darren Guo, Chery Yang, and Venytha Yoshiantini putting in particularly outstanding performances.

“People” attempts to bring out themes of love, loneliness, fear, need for companionship, and unity in adversity, and many of these were well articulated in the various scenes.

Particularly eloquent were scenes like the son’s chance encounter with his estranged father in a cab, as well as the one where the handphone seller agonises over whether to attend the wedding dinner of his ex-girlfriend (which kinda reminded you of “The Weight of Silk on Skin”, and I mean this in the best way possible).

However, it did feel like the entire play was too long drawn out, with a relative lack of urgency or structure in the script such that you couldn’t sense if the play was moving in a particular arc, or toward a particular goal.

Moreover, not every story was necessarily linked with the rest of the stories, and there were a few seemingly loose threads which could either have been further expanded upon or eliminated altogether, such as the one where the young man goes to New York in search of his old flame.

It is indeed heartening to see such a talented group of actors and theatre-makers putting together an effort like this, and “People” does have its shining moments which both tug at the heartstrings and tickle the funnybone.

2014 really does seem to be the year of emerging theatre companies thus far, and I’m really excited about how the year is going to pan out.

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