I have to admit, I watched this play twice.
Forget the outraged (and at the same time rather smug) voice in your head going: “Twice? Such a luxury! What a spoilt thing!”, and listen up for a moment.
Watch this play. (Well, it’s over now – but do catch it elsewhere!)
You won’t regret it – for no longer can Singapore’s drama scene be considered dismal.
This little red dot has undeniably struggled to establish itself as a hub of creative talent, but what we find in the bustling theatres of today simply bubble with creativity and liveliness. Words cannot begin to describe the 90 minutes of pure entertainment that Pangdemonium Production’s Fat Pig brought to the cosy, plush seats of the DBS Singapore Repertory Theatre. The audience whistled, clapped, giggled up bellows of hoo-hahs and we were quite beside ourselves in unstoppable, stomach-ache inducing laughter.
Reminds me of Wild Rice’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest – perhaps because of the stellar way the comedic elements of the script were picked and pried apart and thrust upon the audience with the sparkle of enthusiasm. Of course, the script was much more modern and entirely different – although thoroughly American in terms of taste, jokes and references. One sweeping glance around the theatre and we can see that the vast majority of seats are no longer filled with expats (as with any play a few years back), but with Singaporeans, young and old, that have cultivated a taste for a good show. Though the script was undeniably brilliant, a few adaptations here and there to make it a little more ‘Singaporeanized’ would’ve added that little extra personal panache.
The true merit of the production lay in the actors and actresses. Frances Lee plays the protagonist of the play – the overweight, humorously self-deprecating, but otherwise lovely Helen Barn. Her bubbly nature is effortlessly captivating: it is hard to process that Frances is actually a debut actress (and still studying in Lasalle)! The suave overconfident (ahem, arrogant!) Carter is no exception – Zachary Ibrahim, another debut actor, fits the role perfectly and never fails to draw a guffaw from the audience. Not to forget the genuine and quirky exuberance of Gavin Yap, whom plays the business professional that falls in love with Helen. Gavin Yap emanates a certain loveable aura; whether playing the typical, prissy, 19th Century femmes fatale Cecily in TiOBE, or the hilariously boyish working/loving/playing professional Tom, he slips into his roles and glides around the stage with experienced finesse. Last but not least, dominating Jeannie (played by model Elizabeth Lazan) was a force to be reckoned with, in all senses of the word.
Just four actresses/actors, but with a simple change of props (ingenious how the set was put together, I have to say!) and the wonderful delivery, we somehow have this masterpiece.
It wasn’t just laughter and unmitigated joy though – the storyline did impart some moral messages about how society views the overweight – the discrimination, the pain, the names. There were points in the play where my eyes would well up with a tear or two, and my sniffles would threaten to escalate to a loud bawl (before the characters sent me guffawing in laughter just in time again).
I have to wonder at the facilities, though (namely the air conditioning in the theatre) – the first time I watched the show, I felt like I was freezing to death even in my cardigan, and yet the second time around the theatre became somewhat of a sauna.
Well, I guess with the riotously steamy jokes, you wouldn’t be surprised.