Brotherly love

Chemistry between leads (from left) Jamie Shawn Tan, Vignesh Singh and KS Yeo carries the play along.
Chemistry between leads (from left) Jamie Shawn Tan, Vignesh Singh and KS Yeo carries the play along. PHOTO: FENNEL PHOTOGRAPHY

The highs and lows of the friendship of three old friends are dissected with much vigour

REVIEW / THEATRE

JONATHAN, DAVID & ME

Our Company

Drama Centre Black Box

Thursday

Two-year-old theatre group Our Company's third production, and first original devised work, has an unabashedly youthful vibe.

Written and directed by the company's artistic director Luke Kwek, it starts off like a home- movie reel of your annoying little brother - boisterous, with a potty mouth - before transforming into something more.

The play revolves around three old friends, Jonathan (Vignesh Singh), David (Jamie Shawn Tan) and narrator Mervyn (KS Yeo) - the Jonathan, David & Me of the title - dissecting the highs and lows of their friendship over 75 minutes.

  • BOOK IT / JONATHAN, DAVID & ME

    WHEN: Till tomorrow, 8pm; today and tomorrow, 3pm

    WHERE: National Library, DramaCentre Black Box

    ADMISSION: $30 (go to www.ticketmash.sg/jdm)

The trio meet in secondary school, bonding over their love for the Oasis song Wonderwall, but are driven apart by a love triangle.

This main narrative is interlaced with two famed "bromances": one biblical, from the Hebrew Book Of Samuel, between David, the future king of Israel who slayed Goliath, and Jonathan, the son of King Saul; the other from ancient Meso- potamian poem The Epic Of Gilgamesh, between demi-god Gilgamesh and his wild man sidekick Enkidu.

The Gilgamesh-Enkidu episodes, in particular, played out with a comical gongfu showdown between Singh and Yeo, and Tan, as a seductive goddess, earned the loudest guffaws.

Playwright-director Kwek draws on the memories of the actors to create a story that unfolds in easy- to-follow vignettes.

While the play starts off light- hearted, its latter half turns darker, with scenes dealing in heavier subject matter such as love, heartbreak and death providing sharp contrast to earlier tomfoolery.

Sometimes, Kwek seems to say, real life blunts the edges of the strongest friendships and there is nothing one can do about it.

Ironically, it is in the serious second half of the play that the script and actors - like the characters they depict - seem out of their depth.

Plot twists with the potential for emotional complexity are let down by cheesy, unrealistic treatment. When David returns from working in Hong Kong for a year to find that Jonathan has been dating his exgirlfriend Samantha, he flares up briefly in anger, before, in an about-face, asking earnestly of Jonathan: "Do you love her?"

The death of a loved one is glossed over, a detail that leads conveniently to the play's conclusion, without being dealt with in a meaningful way.

Yet, for all its flaws, the play is staged with much vigour and enthusiasm, and the chemistry between the three leads carries things along for the most part. The message, too, is one that many can relate to: that friendship is a real epic story, with unsung heroes and personal sacrifice.

One hopes for bigger and better things from this young troupe.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2015, with the headline 'Brotherly love'. Print Edition | Subscribe