Stepping into ANGKAT is like entering another world that seems almost close to home, but not quite. A couple leisurely glides along in a sampan, a man fishes while standing on top of a stool, and a child sits under an umbrella. The backdrop is lit in a luminous purple colour, bathing the cast with a twilight glow. As such, the world of ANGKAT submerges the familiar with the imaginative. Playing with fact and fiction, ANGKAT’s take on the Singapore story is definitive, maybe.
John Berger and Jean Mohr’s essay-book A Fortunate Man was published in 1967. It follows the life of an English country doctor, John Sassall, who killed himself some years after the book was published. More than 50 years later, UK theatre company New Perspective takes on this tale in a play of the same name.
This play’s title is misleading. There are no dramatisations of wartime history; no political assertions of any sort. The only reference to the play’s title is minor, but it is, of course, about love.
The Reunification of Two Koreas comprises of twenty short scenes that explores love. The scenes are disparate but love pulses through the characters’ veins: from an unfolding wedding drama to a sex worker haggling for money. All these individuals are bound by a sad, painful love, that kind of love that hurts. It is called a crush for a reason. The play successfully evokes the reality of love that torments and teases, that both embraces you and stamps on your heart. Admittedly at times, the 2.5 hour runtime does feel long, particularly when some scenes are less effective than others (there are only so many variations of how a partner can leave you). Yet, the cast is enthralling, particularly Timothy Ng as a bumbling groomsman and Umi Kalthum Ismail as a discouraging girlfriend. The Reunification of Two Koreas explores how love breathes life—or in particular, death—into relationships. The play’s disjointed narrative can be erratic, but love undoubtedly binds these stories together. The characters are doomed to be (or not to be) together forever.
This review is based on the performance on 9 November 2018. Part of TheatreWorks’ Because I Love You season, The Reunification of Two Koreas ran from 1-11 November at TheatreWorks.
It begins with a tick. Then a tock. Faster than a working clock, more like a hyped up metronome. Or maybe more like the beat of a heart falling in love – fast, rushed, on adrenaline.
OCD Love starts with a hushed, ticking percussion as Rebecca Hytting performs a solo dance of angular limbs and arched backs. She is singular yet uncertain, a fitting beginning for a piece that leans into the obsessive and compulsive.