“This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls” review: these grey areas

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.

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“Dragonflies”: A migrant dreams for home

We are no different from dragonflies. With their tiny transparent wings flapping at 30 beats per second, these creatures travel thousands of kilometers to reproduce, to find a new home, to fight for their survival. This is what Pangdemonium’s Dragonflies alludes to: like dragonflies, our existence is dependent on long-distance migration. From the nomadic homo erectus to our forefathers arriving on distant shores, human beings share this animalistic drive to seek out greener pastures.

Dragonflies begins four years in the future, in a post-Brexit United Kingdom where xenophobia is rampant. It reads like a Nigel Farage wet dream – all non-British citizens no longer have the right to own property and are forced to return to their home countries. Despite having made England his home for thirty years, Singaporean citizen Leslie Chen (Adrian Pang), finds himself back in Singapore. He is greeted by a country that is equally hostile and brimming with racial tension.

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“The Father”: memories, interrupted

Memories come in fragments. They are never methodically organised or neatly categorised as the way you had first experienced it. When someone asks, “Do you remember?”, it takes a while to jog your memory, to recollect a longgone moment in time. This is what Pangdemonium’s The Father attempts to recreatea collection of memories in disarray, but bound together by an ailing protagonist’s mind.

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