There is a real sense of intimacy that is conjured from podcasts. When I listen to a podcast on my morning commute, the lone speaker’s voice in my ear in a crowded MRT carriage makes me feel connected with another human being (hello, Michael Barbaro.) This is what Café Sarajevo effectively evokes – not just visually, as “ON AIR” in red capital letters are displayed behind cast members Mariel Marshall, Peter Musante, Lucy Simic and Stephen O’Connell. But also aurally – as every audience member dons headsets, the performance begins with Marshall’s gentle singing voice. Her song lulls us in, the audience is listening. Café Sarajevo begins.
Aptly falling under this year’s M1 Fringe theme of “My Country My People”, Oliver Chong’s Contemplating Kopitiam and Kampong Wa’ Hassan explores what forms a Singapore heritage – its places. From kopitiams to the last kampong in Singapore, the play tackles the changing landscapes of Singapore: a convergence of familiarity, temporality, and nostalgia.
Chinese wakes in Singapore are one of the best ways to show ‘filial piety’. Held at HDB void decks, wakes are an intimate event on public display, some might say to “put on a show”. Checkpoint Theatre’s Eat Duck cleverly addresses this: Jerry (Hang Qian Chou) calls for a seven-day wake after their 72-year-old mother passes away but his siblings quarrel over the high cost. Jerry insists that this is to pay respect to their mother, so a seven-day wake begins. The sound of Chinese cymbals boom and a backdrop of Chinese idioms on paper scrolls appear. The show, Eat Duck, is well…being put on.
If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
Pangdemonium’s This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls opens with a glimpse of a dance floor. With strobe lights and loud music, dance floors are typically ripe with grimy behaviour, bodies drenched with sweat and alcohol. It is a brief scene, but it is a space that most are familiar with, and a space that This Is What Happens… tries to replicate and expand into domestic and work scenes.
This Is What Happens… attempts to show that these spaces are at times a breeding ground for sexual harassment and abuse, especially as Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is featured at least twice in the first half. The play turns the song on its head: blurred lines no longer alludes to a “she drives me crazy saying no when I know she wants it” stance, but more on the many confusing implications of what consent really means. Yes means yes, but what if you didn’t mean it? What if you change your mind? Consent is not simple because sex, dating and relationships are not simple. With a compelling narrative and a strong ensemble cast, This Is What Happens… successfully encapsulates these grey areas, painting a clear picture of a murky territory.