Best & Worst 2017

Best & Worst 2017: Theatre

BEST

Dragonflies, Pangdemonium, Victoria Theatre, Aug 24 to 26


(From left) Shrey Bhargava,
 Selma Alkaff,
Adrian Pang,
 Thomas Pang
and Tan Kheng
Hua in
 Pangdemonium’s
 Dragonflies. PHOTO: CRISPIAN
 CHAN

Written by Stephanie Street and directed by Tracie Pang, this play about a Singaporean man seeking a home for himself and his daughter is set in a frighteningly near future where climate change pushes thousands to migrate.

Compassionate, hopeful and exquisitely acted, Dragonflies insisted we make room for one another in an increasingly crowded world.

Art Studio, Nine Years Theatre, Victoria Theatre, Aug 17 to 19

Director Nelson Chia's adaptation of Singaporean writer Yeng Pway Ngon's epic novel united visual art, theatre and love of literature in one three-hour production about the lives of several painters over 30 years.

The ensemble was deployed like moving lines of ink in thoughtfully framed sets.

Some scenes were over-reliant on the source text, but the play accurately recreated the tension, sorrow and eventual catharsis in Yeng's mammoth, 240,000-word book.

 

Trojan Women, Ong Keng Sen & National Theatre of Korea, Victoria Theatre, Sept 7 to 9


Actress Yi So
 Yeon (front)
as Cassandra,
 embraced by
Kim Kum Mi,
 who plays her
mother, Hecuba,
in Trojan Women.
 PHOTO: NATIONAL
 THEATRE OF KOREA

Festival director Ong's operatic work went straight for the gut, but had plenty for the head to think over later.

Based on Euripides' tale of the women bereaved by war between Troy and Greece, Trojan Women featured a haunting, somewhat unnerving style of Korean singing called pansori, which perfectly evoked post-war desolation and sympathetic sobs from the stunned audience.

WORST

Detention Katong, Dream Academy, Esplanade Theatre, Feb 17 to March 5

Even the well-matched comic duo of Neo Swee Lin and Sebastian Tan could not save this high-school musical from seeming like, well, a high-school musical.

The actresses cast as students rushed through their lines and much of the humour scripted by Selena Tan fell flat.

So many storylines jostled for prominence that the narrative became a series of disjointed sketches.

This production failed to pass the reviewer test this round, but it might benefit from some self-study and a retry later.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline 'Theatre'. Print Edition | Subscribe