All The World Is One's Stage
Toy Factory Productions
Huayi - Chinese Festival of Arts
Esplanade Theatre, Friday (Feb 19)
On a stage, eight tents sit around a smoking campfire. It is time to tell a story.
This Mandarin production, an Esplanade commission, weaves together the life stories of four Singapore stage veterans - Leanne Ong Teck Lian, Liow Shi Suen, Yong Ser Pin and Johnny Ng.
Directed by Goh Boon Teck alongside Alvin Chiam and Ric Liu, these narratives were funny, tender valentines to the stage.
This production emitted a soft, warm glow. The foursome spoke of their relationship with the craft of theatre - how they stumbled upon it, what kept them chugging along and how they wound up dedicating their lives to the art form.
Supporting the story-telling were four younger performers - Timothy Wan, Jodi Chan, Neo Hai Bin and Liew Li Ting.
Ong delivered a subtle, understated performance, the most memorable of the lot.
She recounted how she was a slow learner who needed three hours to learn her lines when others needed only one.
Yet, immersed in her script, she felt relieved of her burdens. "When I take the stage," she declared, "I am no longer Ong Teck Lian."
Yong's and Ng's tales were peppered with moving anecdotes, as they recalled how their love for the arts was ignited amid the tough economic conditions and charged political atmosphere of Singapore's early years.
While Liow's story lacked emotional depth, it provided several instances of comic relief, lightening the mood.
Behind each face in the theatre are decades of struggle and searching. These four stories faced the past with a warmth, humour and grace that could only have been derived from a lifetime on the stage.
Book It / All The World Is One's Stage
Where: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: Feb 19 to 21, 26 to 28; 8pm (Fri and Sat), 2.30pm (Sun)
Admission: $58 to $88 via Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to Sistic's website)
Info: Esplanade website