Madly beautiful dreamscapes

Jean Ng (left) and Joavien Ng create a dream world in Intrusions. PHOTO: JACK YAM, LIME PIXELS, COURTESY OF ESPLANADE – THEATRES ON THE BAY

Choreographer Joavien Ng perches on a table, one knee bent, the other acrobatically extended beneath the crook of an arm.

Collaborator Jean Ng hurries around her, hooking a bucket on the seated woman's other arm, balancing a broom across Joavien's body and a plate on her shoulder.

She adds a high-heeled shoe under one ear and inserts a knife, handle-first, into the choreographer's mouth.

Watching this, the obvious question is: Will Intrusions too bear up under the similar tension of balancing its unrelated yet attractive physical sketches?

Intrusions presents a world of dreams and so this piece, commissioned for The Studios 2016, works with dreamworld logic.



    Jean Ng & Joavien Ng/ Esplanade Presents: The Studios Esplanade Theatre Studio/ Thursday


  • WHERE: Esplanade Theatre Studio

    WHEN: Today, 8pm

    Tickets: $30 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to

    Advisory: Mature themes and some nudity. Recommended for audiences 16 years and above

The set, designed by Bernice Ong, is crowded with objects such as a sewing machine, a glass fish tank and kitschy statues.

The performers use or manipulate these with the gravity any viewer will recognise from his own night-time adventures.

In dreams, the oddest actions are meaningful or explainable, even if they would be ridiculous when the dreamer awakes.

Are Jean and Joavien dreams or dreamers?

At first, they inhabit separate parts of the stage. They act in similar ways. If one drinks, so does the other. When Jean begins to make instant noodles, Joavien chops a chicken. When Joavien winds up a clockwork fish, Jean moves in stutter-step.

Soon each begins intruding into the other's space. Each uses objects without ever making the other aware of her presence, despite the discordance created by their separate soundtracks (designed by Portugal's Sergio Cardoso).

For the first half of the roughly 75-minute show, Intrusions is madly beautiful.

Nude or costume-clad, Joavien enacts the text and subtext of dreams in dance. Sometimes she is a bride, sometimes a marionette, sometimes sheer animal energy.

Jean tells stories: first the myth of the dreamcatcher, then recounting a typical zany dream sequence while muttering into a walkie- talkie.

However, in the later half, neither Jean's movements nor spoken text are powerful enough to balance her collaborator's impressive physical display. Much potential went unused.

Stronger links between the spoken stories would have helped her part, as would have deploying the colourful parachute she trailed at the end.

At the end of the balancing sketch, Joavien finally crumbles under the effort of keeping different objects in position and one forgets the strength and grace required to hold that display for so long.

Intrusions too could either have been stronger or shorter and created the illusion of greater strength.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline Madly beautiful dreamscapes. Subscribe