>FAIRYTALEHEART by Imaginarts

>reviewed by daniel teo

>date: 3 mar 2000
>time: 8pm
>venue: the drama centre
>rating: **1/2

>tired already? go home then
>review junkie? whitney, give them this click to sniff

                           
>look, we know that you need to know that we, as responsible reviewers, have some quantifiable categories to rate productions, and are not just relying on some undefinable instinct or gut feeling. So to put your mind at ease, we will give you a logical rating system based on the practitioner's vision / and the reviewer's response of a particular production. Here it is then: ***** : Transcendent / Rapturous. ****: Crystal / Appreciative. ***: Transmitted / Thoughtful. **:Vague / Unsatisfied. * : Uncommunicated / Mystified. Yet in the end, you will feel that this is (1) a cheap attempt to justify the subjective arbitrariness of our rating system (2) buttressed by an interest in the logical (and inevitable) categorisation of such productions, which is (3) undermined by the cheapness of the attempt, and (4) confused by the creeping feeling you are getting that we are dead serious in our feeling that this rating system is an accurate description of the content, intent and quality of the production. Oh please -- does it even matter now? Look, at least we tried.
 

>>>>>METAPHORS ABOUND

I'm telling you stories. Trust me.

The state of youth theatre in Singapore is somewhat of an oxymoron - there isn't much of a state to talk about actually. Plays for youths are scarce even though the theatre scene for adults with taste for sex, sex and more sex had exploded with much vengeance. While most adult plays hinge upon the selling point of sex to market their play, what can youth theatre offer to lure in their audience?

Imaginarts offers you stories.

Reacting to the dearth of quality plays for youths, Imaginarts seek to bring about a change in the situation by staging plays that doesn't talk down to youths. Their first production is a simple tale of two teenagers with their own stories to tell. Holding back their wounded heart they come together to trade stories they know, and those they don't know but soon will discover together. About two teenagers trying to come to terms with a reality that is not as pretty as their stories. About two travelers who travel along the blood vessels, who come to the cities of the interior by chance.

What you risk reveals what you value.

Gideon values fantasy, a gift not found in the daily life of despair and bitterness Kirsty is so familiar with. Instead of running away from home, he immerses himself in painting. In creating an alternate universe where butterflies are bright yellows and roads are lit by stars blanketing the sky, there is solace for himself. It's a beautiful world Gideon creates and he wants to share it with Kirsty. Unlike conventional ways of trying to get the girl with movies and gifts, Gideon gives Kirsty something even more precious - his imagination to help them leave the dreary world they inhabit.

>>'FAIRYTALEHEART was a good first step for a new theatre group'

With such a sensitive theme and plot line, it warranted a delicate hand at this play and director Brian Steward was spot on with the warm candle lights and elimination of harsh stage lights. The stage was lit mainly by a myriad of candles, big and small, all casting that warm halo of glow upon the actors.

With Kirsty stumbling into the play in the dark (literally) at the start of the play it established the correct mood of discovery and search for the entire night. Lights were not simply to brighten up the room but as a way to elucidate the soul. Metaphors ran amok like an A-level text begging to be dissected as every prop carried some symbolic weight.

Keagan Kang and Chong Chia Suan did all right as Gideon and Kirsty even though they were both well above their supposedly sixteen year old roles. Chia Suan was surly enough as Kirsty doing her bad-girl attitude thang while Keagan had adequate energy as the irreverent Gideon.

However just like many O-level literature texts, it left one with a nagging hunger for more. Even though the theme of seeking salvation through imagination was interesting, it didn't have the strength to carry the play through. Gideon's stories all seemed to fall short of beauty while the couple's own stories of tormented families didn't progress or develop.

Characterisation was lacking, as their individual backgrounds didn't move past the "I-have-a-stepparent" syndrome. While it was plausible that this gave Kirsty and Gideon impetus to bond, surely it must evolve once this emotional link was forged. Sadly it didn't. Even with Gideon's imagination in play, both of them seemed to be still stuck in the rut of "I-hate-my-parents".

The script was another aspect that refused to move forward. Chock-full of lines like "The snot in my nose froze, and when I sneezed a monster of a booger came out" peppered the play - charming, but not exactly Pulitzer-winning lines. While this was indeed youth theatre, does that mean that this brand of Calvin-and-Hobbes dialogue should dominate the whole play?

FAIRYTALEHEART was a good first step for a new theatre group, considering this is their baby production. Hopefully this baby grows up and we can then really see Gideon's imagination taking flight and soaring to the heights it was supposed to reach.