Saturday, 29 March 2014

Davit Fitrik impressed with Eat with Us at Raw Moves' R.E.P

Local dance company Raw Moves presented 2 new dance works at its annual creative platform  [R.E.P] 2014, held at the Goodman Arts Centre blackbox.

The evening's programme started with Chiew Peishan's Peeling Us, a piece that looked at communication and human relationship.   Through the video segments projected through the TV screens, we got to know the dancers better.  While it was a good attempt to fuse dance with video/ film, the piece remained a conceptual piece. From an audience's point of view, it did not have a strong dance element and the theme was not explored further.

Monday, 24 March 2014

A Singaporean in Paris: Rendvous with French classic songs

A clever production that combined Singapore-style comedy with a showcase of French songs.  An unlikely combination, but it worked.   Set in a French cabaret where our protagonist (played by Hossan Leong) had a performance engagement,  A Singaporean in Paris was about the lives of individuals living their dream in Paris.

The jokes were typically Singaporean and delivered well by Hossan.  He had good support from other singers / actors such as Vicky Williamson, Peter Ong, Mina Kaye and Linden Furnell.  The songs, sang in both French and English, fitted well into the show.

A well produced show where the cast and the production standards were high.  It was full house at the SOTA Theatre on the Saturday matinee, and the audience gave a warm reception to the production.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Review of House of Bernarda Alba by Wild Rice: Good effort and impactful

The impressive set by Wong Chee Wai awaited the audience upon entering the Drama Centre.   Wild Rice has in the past years featured an all male cast in The Importance of Being Ernest, this year the company had an all women cast in The House of Bernada Alba.  Written by Federico Garcia Lorca and adapted by Chay Yew, director Glen Goei's production was tight.  Certain scenes were too angst-sy, probably a few quieter moments would be good.

The ensemble did a good job.  It is good to see Margaret Chan again on stage, though her scenes were limited.  Claire Wong did have the authority figure on stage.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Ravindran Drama Group: Maya the Demon Architect

Two Indian civil servants were worried about the construction scheuldule of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. They went to Meerut hoping to find the demon architect Maya to get them out of trouble.  Ravindran Drama Group's Maya: Demon Architecture related the myth of this persona.

Written and directed by Hemang Nandabalan, the performance was generally cohesive in its narration.  I however would like to see how the myth of the demon architect could link with the problems faced by the Commonwealth Games.  The first part of the performance was rather drawn out - certain scenes could be replaced by a few lines of dialogues.  The last few scenes on Maya seemed to be rushed through.  A pity, since it was the crux of the story.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Romeo and Juliet: Singapore Dance Theatre kickstarted 2014 season in style

First time catching Goh Choo San's Romeo and Juliet, performed by the Singapore Dance Theatre. Kenya Nakamura and Chihiro Uchida had good chemistry in the title roles and they were convincing as the star-crossed lovers. The company had better energy at this performance compared to last year's The Nutcracker.  Goh Choo San's choreography allowed the key characters to have their moments, but certain segments, in particular the crowd scenes, may be too long. The total length of close to 3 hours could be taxing for a modern audience.  The productions standards were good, though for some scenes where the stage was bare, the lighting could have dimmed the background slightly.

An enjoyable evening, and a good start of SDT's 2014 season.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Tap Dogs returns to Singapore

Australia’s most successful theatrical export, Dein Perry’s TAP DOGS, is coming to the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands for a strictly limited season from 27 May to 1 June for eight performances only.

The global dance sensation has performed in over 330 cities across six continents and has been seen by over 12 million people.  

The winner of more than 11 international awards including an Olivier Award (UK), an Obie Award (New York)and a Pegasus Award (Spoleto Festival in Italy), Dein Perry’s TAP DOGS is an 80-minute showcombining the strength and power of workers with the precision and talent of tap dancing.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Dee Dee Bridgewater opened the last edition of Mosaic Festival

This was my second time attending Dee Dee Bridgewater's concert, and both times at the Esplanade Concert Hall.  Her opening concert at the Mosaic Festival would also be the last edition, as The Esplanade would rethink the current format for its music offerings. For this concert, Dee Dee Bridgewater covered the songs by Billie Holiday, where she recorded an album Eleanora Fagan (1915–1959): To Billie with Love From Dee Dee Bridgewater in 2009. The album won the 2011 Grammy_Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Dee Dee was in good mood that evening, and she chattered quite a bit and also teased the audience for not knowing the jazz standards.  She covered such tunes as All of Me, Fine and Mellow, Mother's Son-in-law and of course God Bless the Child. An enjoyable evening, and also the countdown to the end of this Festival.

Instead of refining its programming, The Esplanade chose to end the Mosaic Festival. This is possibly in reaction to the other music festivals in town, namely St Jerome's Laneway Festival, the new Jazz Festivals at the Marina Bay Sands, the concerts held in connection with the F1 event etc.  We will see what new format or ideas would come out from The Esplanade. Hopefully there won't be too many returning artists appearing at Esplanade stage.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Review of Blackout at Adelaide Festival: More dance element please

A wedding held on a cruise ship was disrupted by a storm and everyone on board experienced some kind of revelation.  This Australia/ Portugal co-production Blackout was by Paulo Castro and Jo Stone, making its world premiere at the Adelaide Festival.   The performance was held at AC Arts Main Theatre.

While this was billed as a dance programme under the Adelaide Festival, it was more like a physical theatre / drama performance to me, with spoken texts and dialogue taking up bulk of the performance time.   On the cruise ship, we had the insecure bride and bridegroom, the absent bride’s father, the drunken bridesmaid, the over-friendly best man, the unsuccessful musician-friend, the macho ship captain and the waitress with a secret.  While these characters could be stereotypical, they were handled by the excellent ensemble cast.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Museum time in Adelaide!

While attending performances in the evening, I took the opportunity to visit 2 museums while in Adelaide.  The first destination was South Australian Museum, where the Adealaide Festival had a Dig it@ The Museum at its entrance.  More for children.  My main interest was the comprehensive display of  aboriginal culture and art at the museum

It was great to see this exhibition as I had visited Uluru.  The exhibition supplemented a lot of information gathered from the trip.

The aboriginal art was beautiful to look at...

Girl Asleep and Fugitives: Fairy tales updated for modern times

I had the pleasure of catching 2 performances of Windmill Theatre at the Adelaide Festival.   Titled Windmill Trilogy, it consisted of 2 previously written plays Fugitives and School Dance, and a premiere Girl Asleep at the Festival.  Windmill Theatre is an Australian company focusing on teens and children's audience.

Girl Asleep was a coming of age story for teens and children.  Greta was trying to fit into her new environment, her new school, her not-so-friendly schoolmates.  She found comfort in Elliot, an awkward but kind boy. On the eve of her 15th birthday, her parents threw her a surprise party and strange events unfolded.   Probably inspired by Alice in Wonderland, we saw Greta entering a world where she met characters that somehow resembled those in reality. Artistic Director Rosemary Myers and the production team succeeded in creating a world of fantasy, employing puppetry, 50s design, lights and music in the small Space Theatre at the Festival Theatre. During the preview, certain scenes were slightly long but it should be taken care of at the opening night.    The cast was tight, with most actors playing multiple roles.  Ellen Steele played Greta with innocent charm while Eamon Farren was convincing as Greta’s awkward friend Elliot.   It is good to see a theatre company pumping resources in creating works for the youth.

Fugitives was a retelling of Robin Hood, set in the near future.  The young Robin returned to his hometown after a few years' absence, leaving his love interest Marion waiting in vain.  At the same time, the town was run by the evil forces, where the guards looked like Star Wars troopers. Among all these chaos, he had to deal with a love triangle.

Fugitives started well, where the characters were well introduced in the early scenes.  Things got muddled when it tried on one hand, dealing with the baddies and on the other hand, the love triangle. Having said that, the creative team did make the production tight and the ensemble cast held the performance together.  The young audience obviously were engaged.

While I found both plays a bit weak on the plot, I could be seeing from the point f view of an adult.  Based on the reception given to the cast on both nights, Windmill Theatre obviously had hit the right notes with the target audience.

Monday, 3 March 2014

River of Fundament: A well shot but challenging film

It was a strange feeling sitting through Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament, a six-hour film loosely based on Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings.  The screening was part of the Adelaide Festival 2014 programme, held at the old Capri Theatre in the Goodwood area.

Ancient Evenings was about an ancient Egyptian Pharoh seeking reincarnation three times in the hope of achieving immortality.  In Barney’s film, it was Norman Mailer who had to reincarnate 3 times, in the form of cars.  And he had to cross the river of feces to attain his reincarnation. 

Mathew Barney’s film had a grandness in it, and he managed to get well-known actors like Ellen Burstyn, Paul Giamatti and Maggie Gyllenhaal to appear in it.  It also included 3 live performances that was related to the story.  Visually, it was stunning to watch and artistically shot.  The length of the movie did get to me, and at times I felt it was rather self-indulgent. This would be a film that would divide the audience.  Adelaide Festival must be praised to have the courage to put this in its programme.

A memorable thing of going to Capri Theatre was to dine at this little bistro / restaurant called L'Atelier Gourmand.   Had a wonderful chicken entree.  Cappuccino was great too!

Prices were reasonable.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Review: Roman Tragedies @ Adelaide Festival - Shakespeare plays, CNN style

There was huge anticipation from the audience waiting to enter the Festival Theatre of the Adelaide Festival Centre.   We were keen to see how Dutch director Ivo Van Hove was going to condense and combine 3 of the Shakespeare political plays, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra,  into a 6-hour production.  On top of that, the production would be set in a world of live media and reporting.   The performance Roman Tragedies was staged by Toneelgroep Amsterdam as one of the key productions of the Adelaide Festival 2014. Audience were free to choose which sections of the auditorium to watch the show, even the performing area. I decided to start with the circle seats.  The screen on top of the stage would either provide commentary on historical events, quotes from famous people and do a live feed of the incidents.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Adelaide Festival opened with free open air concert

An outdoor concert at Elder Park was held to officially open the Adelaide Festival 2014.  After watching Girl Asleep at the Festival Theatre, it was logical for me to attend the outdoor concert.   First up was Charles Bradley, who had a hard life and only found fame recently.  He had a soulful and sad voice, reminded me of James Brown.

Next up was Kid Creole and the Coconuts,