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Theatre review: Rising Son plays it safe, perhaps too safe, in war

Published on Mar 30, 2014 8:19 AM
Actors Tan Shou Chen and Seong Hui Xuan in the Singapore Repertory Theatre's Rising Son, written by Dick Lee. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE REPERTORY THEATRE

Time has smoothed over some of the deepest fractures left by the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. The sort of curdling animosity that might have swallowed this play several decades ago is hardly present today.

But with every retelling of the war comes a certain emotional expectation of what a war ought to be. No one emerges from a war unscathed, and to walk through the valley of the shadow of death under the wing of the enemy is a taboo that still packs a punch.

Composer and musician Dick Lee, known for his irresistible musicals, takes a turn for the serious with the stripped-down Rising Son, the first in a family trilogy and based loosely on his father's unusual World War II experiences.

The elder Lee struck up a friendship with a Japanese soldier who moved in next door, resulting eventually in a sort of nostalgia for a period that was, for so many others, a time of great suffering and pain.

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