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.
The first thing you notice about Still Life is its set. A massive bird’s nest structure hangs from the ceiling, alongside faux wooden beams and matte black pendant lamps. Nude sketches and paintings are donned on all walls. Petrina Dawn Tan’s set feels cosy, and even lived-in, especially with the mishmash of seats that circle the stage: rattan chairs, sofas, high stools, rugs and more.
The next thing you notice about Still Life is Dana Lam herself. Sporting cropped hair and clad entirely in black, Dana exhibits a no-nonsense spunk. She shows a careful consideration with her words, and a fluid freehand style with her live artistic sketches. Still Life is centered around Dana, and her life is anything but still.
It is 2007 on a Thursday night, and I am at the old Phuture on Zion Road. “Smack that, all on the floor,” Akon’s hit single Smack That is booming from the club speakers. “Smack that, give me some more,” the song continues. The club is brimming with barely legal teenagers. Couples are gyrating on the crowded dance floor; some of the girls’ bodycon dresses are riding up and the boys pump their fists in the air. I feel self-conscious as I am sandwiched between two tall figures. Even so, I find myself dancing; the air is heavy but the beat is thick.
It is 2017 on a Saturday night, and I am late for Checkpoint Theatre’s Thick Beats for Good Girls.