Toy Factory's work Permanence an intimate exploration of love and sex

Permanence stars (above from left) Nicholas Bloodworth, Mario Chan, Putri Indam Kamila and Daphne Quah.
Permanence stars (above from left) Nicholas Bloodworth, Mario Chan, Putri Indam Kamila and Daphne Quah.ST PHOTO: ANIL KUMAR

Toy Factory Productions' Permanence is an intimate and entertaining look at 20somethings avoiding adulthood

REVIEW / THEATRE PERMANENCE

Toy Factory Productions

17A Smith Street/ Sunday

Permanence is staged on the upper floor of Toy Factory Productions' home, a renovated shophouse on Smith Street.

The small 60-seat space overlooking Chinatown's food street could have been a challenge. Director Mitchell Fang and his team turn it into an asset and a bedroom.

Viewers in the front row can reach the set by stretching out their legs and are pulled by this satisfyingly intimate view into a tragicomic narrative of love, sex and seeking adulthood.

Putri Indam Kamila is Blanche, thrill-seeking, rootless and terrified of her feelings for her on-again, off-again lover Chris, played by Nicholas Bloodworth.

Daphne Quah is also Blanche, an older version of the same character, who has settled uneasily into domesticity with Nathan, played by Mario Chan.

Permanence is the first of four plays staged until Aug 7 under Toy Factory Productions' new platform, The Wright Stuff. All plays in this mini-season are fresh works by debut playwrights, given life by rising directors.

The banter between the Blanches and the men in their lives is the strength of the script written by first-time playwright Gina Chew. Dialogue is clever and written to be spoken, not read - the converse is a mistake often made by first-time scriptwriters.

Permanence nails the heady, confused revelry of 20something romance and love-making. The first sexual encounter between Blanche and Chris is realistic and funny.

The writing is less sure in the domestic setting. Even if this is a play about people trying to delay adulthood, this results in naive assumptions that weaken the plot.

The loss of Blanche's boyfriend Chris gets more honest grief than the loss of her child. Quah's Blanche and Nathan seem to settle almost immediately into wounded partnership against the world, when a closer examination of Nathan's grief would have made his retaliatory actions at the end more believable.

Viewers are also left wondering whether the loss of Chris turned Blanche into an alcoholic shut-in - again, room for drama that went unexplored in favour of riding on humour.

Still, there is sufficient chemistry between the leads to drive the audience past some of the gaping plot-holes and keep them invested for all 90 minutes of the play.

Judging by this first in the mini-season, Toy Factory Productions' new platform for developing playwrights and directors seems to have the right stuff.

•Read more about The Wright Stuff and book tickets at www.toyfactory.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2017, with the headline 'Cosy bedroom of love and sex'. Print Edition | Subscribe