Wacky collaboration

The cast have fun in Super Happy Land, switching from English to Japanese to Malay with verve.
The cast have fun in Super Happy Land, switching from English to Japanese to Malay with verve. PHOTO: JOHNNY JON JON

Five people from different corners of the world have been picked to live on Super Happy Land, where fine wine flows freely and simply telling the truth is rewarded with extravagant gifts.

They feast, they bask, they bond - and then they break, as things go awry. The group discover they have not been rewarded for their abilities. They have been sent into exile: they are too influential, too smart, too precarious. Someone, somewhere, wants them gone.

It's a dark twist that gives the comic hijinks layers of depth and emotion. Bit by bit, the high energy and flashy costumes chip away, revealing insecurities and longing.

Singapore collective Hatch Theatrics and Japan's Theatre Gumbo's second collaboration proves they make magic together. This is exaggerated comedy from a casthaving shameless fun, switching among English, Japanese and Malay with verve.



    Hatch Theatrics & Theatre Gumbo

    Malay Heritage Centre Auditorium



  • WHERE: Malay Heritage Centre Auditorium, 85 Sultan Gate

    WHEN: Today, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $25 from hatchtheatrics.wix.com/hatchtheatrics

There is company CEO Black Sweet, whose sweet-talking ways make him a force to be reckoned with, landing him in exile. There is Captain Decibel, the bellowing bodyguard privy to the secrets of the most powerful people on the planet.

But it is Kayo Tamura, as Lucky Girl, whose parents have sent her to the island in an attempt to rid themselves of her, who catches my eye. Rubber-faced, armed with impeccable comedic timing, she rules the stage with a simple flutter of her lashes or purse of her lips.

The chosen five are accompanied by mysterious island guides played by Nono Miyasaka and Farez Najid - the orchestrators of many of the on-stage hijinks, launching into song-and-dance sequences that lead the five to conflict or revelation.

The performance takes place on a sparse but effective set - a white cloth serves as a backdrop, with visual artist ILA projecting shadows and rippling liquids onto it. The action takes place amid music by Stan x Soap, from lilting pieces to gloomy, hypnotic beats.

But while the stripped-down format works well, the transitions from introspection tocomedy can be jarring due to uneven pacing.

Black Sweet's long pontifications on issues such as a New World Order and the dangers of mayonnaise - he insists it's a weapon governments use to control humans - are unconvincing and too drawn out.

But these keep the plot ticking, as everyone except Lucky Girl, squirting mayonnaise into her mouth straight from the bottle with obvious relish, seems swayed by his words. This sets up the opportunity for developing their relationship and, sure enough, the charismatic leader and free spirit develop a romance that will send you into fits of laughter.

Laughter is universal and the two groups have carved a comedy sweet spot with their antics.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2015, with the headline 'Wacky collaboration'. Print Edition | Subscribe