Arts Picks: National Theatre's Antony And Cleopatra, Pangdemonium's Dragonflies, and more

PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE, THEARTSHOUSE.SG, CRISPIAN CHAN

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA

This blockbuster stage version of Shakespeare's play stars Ralph Fiennes as Antony and the incomparable Sophie Okonedo as Cleopatra.

Fair warning: It runs for more than three hours.

Nonetheless, this is well worth the time. Fiennes plays Antony as a war-weary, slightly gone to seed, veteran who wants nothing more than to retire to the louche life in the warm embrace of Egypt and Cleopatra.

Okonedo, who is fearless in tackling problematic Shakespearean women, relishes playing up the selfish, manipulative side of the famed Egyptian beauty.

The dynamic between these two stellar actors is electric, which also means the pace tends to sag whenever they are offstage.

I was lucky enough to catch the performance at the National Theatre in London in 2018, and can testify to the chemistry in the live show and the wobbly pacing.

The rotating set is a theatrical marvel, changing from a brilliant Mediterranean-style turquoise wading pool to a majestic submarine conning tower that rises up spectacularly from the floor.

ADMISSION: Free

INFO: https://str.sg/JMnp

DRAGONFLIES


PHOTO: EPIGRAM BOOKS

This 2017 play by Britain-based Singapore-born Stephanie Street about economic migrants won four The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards, including Production of the Year.

And its story about how easily migrants can be displaced has special resonance today as borders close and xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore and worldwide as a result of the coronavirus.

Set in 2021, the play follows a Singaporean (Adrian Pang) who is forced to sell his British home after the death of his British wife. He returns to Singapore where a comfortable lifestyle is enabled by foreign labour and a riot in a market upsets the family routine.

The work is characteristic of Pangdemonium's winning formula of slick production values and thought-provoking theatre fare. And it seems eerily prescient today, in the way that all good art is.

The company is streaming this work, first staged at the Singapore International Festival of Arts, for free on Vimeo. Follow the company on its Facebook page (https://str.sg/JQmL) for announcements about productions it is streaming.

WHERE: https://str.sg/JQmb

WHEN: May 8 to 14

ADMISSION: Free

ROSNAH


PHOTO: CRISPIAN CHAN

This 2016 restaging of playwright Haresh Sharma's 1995 play tells the story of Rosnah, a Singapore Malay-Muslim woman who leaves home to study in London. The clash of traditional and Western values forces her to re-examine her belief system.

This version in Malay is translated by Aidli "Alin" Mosbit, who played the title role in the original version. The script, devised by Sharma in collaboration with Mosbit, is an actor's dream and Siti Khalijah Zainal commands the stage effortlessly in the title role.

Musician Bani Haykal offers beautiful live music accompaniment, at times drumming and bowing his guitar for unusual effects.

While the script has been updated lightly, some of the pop references are quaintly dated (the mentions of American singer Michael Bolton will be lost on Gen Zs).

But Rosnah is still relevant for the way it shines a light on the cultural and social burdens carried by a modern Malay-Muslim woman and makes for thoughtful viewing.

WHERE: Vimeo

ADMISSION: Free till May 25

INFO: https://str.sg/JQQg

WRITE FROM HOME WORKSHOPS


PHOTO: THEARTSHOUSE.SG

Pick up some skills while you work from home with The Arts House's Write From Home series of workshops.

The sessions will be conducted by local writers Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingde and Gwee Li Sui, as well as Singapore Literature Prize winner Melissa De Silva.

Kon will focus on Creativity Under Constraint: Finding Peace in Isolation, while Gwee addresses humour in Funny Not Funny: Writing Humour. De Silva's three-session workshop - Step Inside: Documenting Our Interior Journey In An Unusual Time - will be a deep dive

Each workshop will run for two hours on video conferencing platform Zoom.

WHERE: Online via Zoom

WHEN: May 9, 14, 16 and 23, various timings

ADMISSION: $10 or $20

INFO: https://str.sg/JQQ6